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General Ma^azinl 
^""'"^^^vn Vc Hiprkai hrmicle, 

KVirnbgt^, > **' ^^^^ >T..r all the Brttifi V\; ir >-!../ 
[To hf CtmtiniKd Moathly.] 

All the eighteenth century magazines embellished their covers and 
pages with copper-plates. Our first magazine, The General Magadne, 
sported the three plumes of the Prince of Wales ; the American showed 
a haughty and fat Indian leaning upon his club, whom a dapper 
Frenchman was tempting with money from a war-chest while a virtuous 
Englishman extended a Bible and charter 










Copyright, 1915 

Copyright, 1916 




i r.. 


These papers, for the most part published in The Book- 
man, present an informal history of the magazine move- 
ment in the United States, from its beginning down to 
the close of the nineteenth century. The author has 
not undertaken the business of the genuine historian. In 
the few studies he has encountered of magazines of spe- 
cial periods, he has found as many contradicted state- 
ments of fact as an informed reader may discover in his 
own pages. Many of the statistics of magazines have 
been entirely lost, partly through contemporaneous in- 
difference to such ephemera and partly because the persons 
who knew the facts were willing to let them disappear. 
This account seeks merely to arrange our magazines and 
their tendencies in order, and to assemble such published 
opinions about both as the author in his reading has found 
interesting either in themselves or in their disagreement. 
Perfectly fair-minded people unfortunately have at the 
time little that is interesting to say and less occasion for 
saying it. Only out of some fullness of the heart have 
mouths spoken of matters which were mistakenly sup- 
posed to be of small concern to the general public. Edi- 
tors and proprietors notoriously put their best foot for- 
ward, and avoid mention of derogatory items which com- 
petitors and contributors are as eager to detach and 
emphasise. As a consequence, the facts of the period are 
to be found only by minute search and comparison of 
sophisticated or biassed documents. The author has had 
no opportunity to verify, sift, and weigh all the collectable 
evidence — which is the duty of veritable history. 

For such as it is, however, this running account of the 
magazine in America has arranged for the first time the 
widely scattered and submerged material which it pre- 


sents, and sought to make a continuous picture of the in- 
tellectual and literary movements of our country as ex- 
pressed in its periodicals for one hundred and fifty years. 
Of the modern magazines much that might be said has 
been omitted, merely because it has not yet found its way 
to print. With them by intention as with their ancestors 
by necessity, the author has interviewed only the written 
word — the spoken though perhaps quite as reliable is at 
least less responsible. He has not rushed in where writers 
fear to tread. To everything that has been printed, how- 
ever, he has helped himself liberally. Aside from the 
many authors, dead and living, whose reminiscences have 
gone to the making of this volume, he owes thanks to 
several surveys in specialised fields, chiefly for their valu- 
able aid in orientation. These are Professor A. H. 
Smyth's The Philadelphia Magazines, 1741-1850; Mr. 
E. R. Rogers* Four Southern Magazines; Mr. W. B. 
Cairns' Development of American Literature, 18 15-1833 ; 
Mr. W. H. Venable's Beginnings of Literary Culture in 
the Ohio Valley ; and Mr. H. E. Fleming's Magazines of 
a Market-Metropolis. These have all supplied statistics. 
But the maker of this mosaic frankly confesses that his 
interest lies rather in hearing what people have thought 
of themselves and of each other than in the absolute facts 
at the bottom of their opinions ; and ventures to think that 
in so indulging himself he gets a clearer idea, as- well as a 
more colourful one, of the fundamental truth. 




I Eighteenth Century Magazines .... i 

II The Making of the Boston Tradition . . 28 

III Baked Beans and Brown Bread .... 55 

IV Philadelphia, the Valley of Self-suffi- 

cientness 85 

V New York and the Making of a Metropolis 109 
VI The Willowy Willis and the Piratical Poe 

in New York 131 

VII The Waves of the Atlantic 154 

VIII South and West — Athenses That Might 

Have Been 178 

IX Putnam's and the New Journals of Opinion 205 
X Harper's — The Converted Corsair . . . 232 
XI Righteousness and Peace Have Missed Each 

Other 256 

XII Century Born Scribner's 287 

XIII Some Magazine Notions Dead and Dying . 312 

XIV The End of the Century 34Q 



In January, 1741, three days apart and in the small city 
of Philadelphia, were published the first two magazines 
of this country. These facts themselves make one sus- 
pect cut-throat work. It is perhaps significant that the 
stormy and colourful career of the magazine in America 
began with a royal row. 

One was published by Andrew Bradford, the other by 
Benjamin Franklin. Their appearance had been preceded 
by the usual announcements in the newspapers and by a 
very unusual altercation. For Franklin claimed that the 
idea and the plans of the magazine had been stolen from 
him. Webbe, who had announced Bradford's, admitted 
that Franklin had told him of the project but said this did 
not restrain him from publishing one himself without Mr. 
Franklin's leave. During the quarrel both Franklin and 
Bradford accused each other of using their position of 
Post Master to foster their private ends. Only three 
numbers appeared of Bradford's magazine, the American 
or a Monthly View; and only six numbers of Franklin's, 
the General Magazine or Historical Chronicle. Franklin 
in his first number ridiculed his competitor's ; but he seems 
not to have been proud of his own, as no mention of it 
occurs in his autobiography. 

Between this and the end of the century there were at 
least forty-five magazines started. Besides those ad- 
dressed to a more general audience, they included a 
musical magazine, a military, a German religious, and a 
children's magazine. Thus, the sparsely settled new 
States were decidedly over-exploited. When in 1787, 
Mathew Carey requested advice about founding the 
American Museum Jeremy Belknap wrote him from Bos- 


ton : " Several atiempts have been made within my 
memory both here and at the Southward to establish such 
a repository of literature, but after a year or two they have 
uniformly failed. To what other causes the failure may 
be ascribed I will not say, but this appears to me to be 
one, viz : the too frequent publication of them. We are 
fond of imitating our European Brethren in their monthly 
productions without considering the difference between 
our Circumstances and theirs. Such a country as this 
is not yet arrived at such a pass of improvement to keep 
up one or two monthly vehicles of importance." How- 
ever barren were some departments of literature in the 
early days, then, magazines indicated at the outset their 
eternal disposition to multiply faster than the traffic will 

From a very early date editors had been keenly con- 
scious of the need for variety. The New England Maga- 
zine, 1758, price eight pence a number of sixty pages, gave 
in an advertisement this description of its contents : 

Containing and to Contain: 

Old-fashioned writings and Select Essays, 

Queer Notions, Useful Hints, Extracts from Plays; 

Relations Wonderful and Psalm and Song, 

Good Sense, Wit, Humour, Morals, all ding dong; 

Poems and Speeches, Politicks, and News, 

What Some will like and other Some refuse; 

Births, Deaths, and Dreams, and Apparitions, Too; 

With some Thing suited to each different Geu (gout?) 

To Humour Him, and Her^ and Me, and You. 

The editor of the Massachusetts Magazine was con- 
stantly adding new departments, but insisted that all its 
contributions should be of a popular nature. " It has 
been hinted by some well-wishers that deeper researches 
into the arcana of science, more especially the abstruser 
parts of philosophy and the mathematics, would give the 
magazine a celebrity with the learned. In reply we beg 
leave to remark that the British Universal Magazine was 
materially injured by an adherence to this plan; and 


America presents a more recent instance of a magazine 
supported by a host of scholars which literally sunk be- 
neath the impending weight of technical terms and the 
pressure of amplified definitions.'' If they had not 
hitherto consulted the desires of the fair sex sufficiently 
or gratified the delicacy of their taste, they trusted to 
compensate for their negligence in the future; and they 
hoped at the same time that the scientifick sons of Provi- 
dence and the accomplished seniors of Yale would deposit 
their respective offerings at the shrine of Fame; and it 
could be seen that the proceedings of Congress and the 
Commonwealth had been detailed with all the amplitude 
which prescribed limits would allow. The Nightingale 
was establishing a department of Criticism which would 
give candid and impartial accounts of all American publi- 
cations. " The food which the editors served up has 
been found to be disagreeable to some fastidious palates 
and inadequate to supply the cravings of some insatiable 
stomachs. Yet they do not conceive their dishes to be 
filled with the mere whipt-syllabub of learning and the 
flummery of the muses. The most hungry might have 
found a solid beef stake of science to feast upon, and they 
are sure the pepper of criticism and satire have been given 
in abundance sufficient to prevent a nausea. Good 
humour has always smiled at their table, and variety has 
garnished the viands." Indeed, when one considers the 
exceedingly heavy fare offered almost without exception 
by the books and pamphlets of the day, the magazines 
should have afforded a delightful treat. Political and 
religious controversies were sedulously avoided by most. 
All of them had their regular light essayists of the Bicker- 
stafT lineage — the Gleaner, the Drone, the Babbler, the 
Trifler, the Scribbler, Philobiblicus. The poetry some- 
times constituted a fourth or a sixth of the issue, and 
with a recklessness which would turn the modern editor 
pale was collected in a department at the end of each 
number. The chief function of poetry as a filler-up of 
chinks left between more solid prose had not yet evolved. 


Every magazine had its Pegasus, its Cabinet of Apollo, 
its Seat of the Muses, its Parnassiad; even the most 
prosaic had its Poetical Essays or its Poetical Provision. 
Nor was the poetry all of the lofty variety of " An Ele- 
gant Ode on the Mechanism of Man " ; there were lines 
"To a Lady on Striking a Fly with Her Fan," or to 
" The Fly On Being Let into a Lady's Chamber " ; and 
there was much narrative verse, serious or jocose. Even 
the Boston Magazine, 1784, six of the twelve original 
members of which became the parents of the Massachu- 
setts Historical Society by virtue of their design to publish 
a Gazeteer of the State giving a sketch of every town in 
the commonwealth, announced that though it would 
rather be too grave than too sprightly and though it 
hoped it would never be trifling or superficial or ludicrous, 
it would apply itself to the publication of everything that 
is curious and entertaining. 

All the editors, too, were alive to the desirableness of 
embellishing their magazines with " elegant copper- 
plates." A frequent announcement runs, " As soon as a 
number of Subscribers equal to the expence of this maga- 
zine are procured, every number shall then be ornamented 
with some pleasing representation." These were very 
expensive, and in days when there were very few adver- 
tisements (indeed, almost none at all in the monthlies, 
except on the cover pages) they were a decided considera- 
tion. Yet at a time when into the average household 
never entered a picture of any sort, they must have given 
great delight. The first volume of the Boston Magazine 
contained twenty-seven illustrations; its plan was two 
engravings and a piece of music to each number. The 
Massachusetts Magazine tried for a time the experiment 
of furnishing eight additional pages of letter press in lieu 
of copper plate engravings, ** but the admirers of this 
polite art earnestly called for their re-assumption." Thus 
in addition to popularising literature, the early magazines 
were popularising art also. 


The prospectus of the New York Instructor, 1755, 
might well have served for most. 

The design of this paper is to communicate to the Publick 
Select Pieces on the Social Duties, and such historical or Specu- 
lative Remarks as may be thought useful to be collected from 
the best English writers; which if read either in a Morning at 
Tea, or after Dinner by the Younger Sort, cannot fail of leav- 
ing a good effect upon the mind, as well as improving them in 
their Reading and Morals. If any Getlemen of Taste will 
please to recommend any particular Pieces, all due Regard 
shall be paid to them in their Turn. And these collected into 
One or more Volumes will be worth preserving, especially to 
those who cannot readily come at the Originals. Occasional 
News will sometimes be added likewise. N.B. No Contro- 
versy of any kind will have Admittance. To be continued 
Weekly (if suitable Encouragement). Price, Two Coppers. 
Whoever pleases to preserve these Papers entire and will re- 
turn them to the Printer at the end of the year shall have a 
Copper a Piece for each. 

Alas for the thrifty who saved their papers! It is 
thought that only ten numbers were published. 

Almost as frustrated as their appeal for subscriptions 
was their demand for original pieces. The second 
volume of the Massachusetts Magazine laments the want 
of more originality. " Indulge us to observe that men of 
learning in this country are not always blest with leisure. 
Yet the Massachusetts Magazine can compare in point 
of originality with its American brethren and transatlantic 
cousins. There is no work of this kind in any quarter 
of the globe which is totally original. A correspondence 
has been established in Europe, and an agreeable inter- 
change of literary good offices promises to be a happy 
result." The second volume of the Boston Magazine 
confesses that it began with high hopes of originality, 
the first volume indeed having a third of its pieces 
original. But the second volume has been compelled to 
publish many extracts, which will, however, increase 
learning, improve the morals, and mend the heart. The 
editor is particularly obliged to the sons of Harvard for 


their productions and he shall always be happy to have it 
in his power to announce to the public the effusions of 
their pens. The American Moral and Sentimental, New 
York, 1797, printed for the editor next door to the Tea- 
Water pump, was a type of a great many magazines which 
did not essay the struggle for originality. This publica- 
tion, as perhaps might be gathered from its name, reeks 
with edification. The Philadelphia Magazine and Re- 
view, 1799, thought that the desire for originality had 
wrecked many ventures. " We are led to believe that 
they failed for some other cause than the want of dis- 
cernment or liberality in those to whom the editor looked 
for support. For one publication of ours we receive 
at least fiwt hundred from Great Britain ... yet we 
shall always be glad to print any original verse or prose 
or agreeable talk." Mathew Carey designed the Ameri- 
can Museum in 1787 to fill a new niche. " Having long 
observed in the various papers printed on this continent 
a vast number of excellent and invaluable productions, I 
have frequently regretted that the perishable nature of 
the vehicles which contained them entailed oblivion on 
them after a very confined period of usefulness and circu- 
lation. The respectable character who now fills the presi- 
dential chair of this commonwealth having expressed 
the same sentiment a few months since, I conceived that 
a publication designed to preserve the most valuable could 
not fail to be highly useful and consequently among an 
enlightened people to meet with encouragement.'* He 
contemplated also a re-publication of many of the best 
pamphlets prior to and during the war, with occasional 
selections from European prints. But even this lofty 
design had room for pieces of a more popular kind, 
though, with the exception of some of the verse, none 
were for entertainment merely. In the announcement 
for volume two he said : " So far was public opinion 
against it and so very confined were the expectations 
formed of a work which professed to be void of origi- 
nality and to be in some measure only a handmaiden to 


the newspapers, that at the appearance of the first number 
there were not twenty subscribers." 

The editors all felt that their mission was to educate 
the people. " M " is writing to a magazine and accounts 
for the defective literature of his native country by the 
scarcity of books. 

There is hardly a library in the United States, public or pri- 
vate, which would enable a man to be thoroughly learned in any 
one language. The public library of Philadelphia is a respect- 
able one for its age and will probably in time exhibit a very- 
large collection. The same may be said of the library belong- 
ing to the University of Cambridge in Massachusetts. If I mis- 
take not, however, they are both very defective, and the latter 
particularly so, in modern publications. Nor are the deficiencies 
of our public libraries by any means supplied by private collec- 
tions, or by the enterprise and literary character of booksellers. 
There is hardly a greater desideratum in the United States than 
a bookseller who to a large capital in business would unite a 
taste for literature, a zeal to promote it, and a disposition to 
make the public as early as possible acquainted with every new 
publication of value that is made either in Europe or America. 
As it is, we seldom see a European publication here, unless it be 
of a peculiarly popular cast or unless it be sent for by a gen- 
tleman who has heard of its character. Thus you see, Mr. Edi- 
tor, I view everything of this kind with cordial satisfaction and 
cannot help flattering myself that the establishment of your 
magazine will materially subserve the interest of letters and 
science in America. 

The tenor of another letter is the same. 

It is with pleasure we observe the numerous literary institu- 
tions in these States, happily calculated to disseminate a knowl- 
edge of the Arts and Sciences. But very few of our Youth can 
be educated in these seminaries, and though good policy may 
forbid that any considerable number of them should receive a 
collegiate education, it may, notwithstanding, be of essential 
service to the community that our young men in general who 
shall devote themselves to commerce and to mechanical and 
agricultural employment should possess considerable degrees of 
literature. A deficiency of learning hath often been very sensi- 
bly regretted by many worthy characters in these States when 
elevated to public and important offices; and frequently igno- 
rance hath not only exposed them to ridicule but been injurious 
to the interests of the public. We mention particularly a cir- 


cumstance that exposed a very popular patriot in London a few 
years past, to contempt and occasioned him to become a subject 
of ridicule in the public papers of the metropolis. In an oration 
he made at Guildhall, instead of speaking in the superlative de- 
gree, which he wished to have done, through ignorance he made 
use of the double comparative — more better. 

This last appeared in the Christian's, Scholar's and 
Farmer's Magazine, published By a Number of Gentle- 
men in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. The title is a de- 
lightful illustration of that breadth of aim which most 
of our early magazines exhibited. It was the design of 
this performance to promote religion, to diffuse knowl- 
edge, and to aid the Husbandman in his very necessary 
and important toil. The full title of the Massachusetts 
Magazine was Monthly Museum of Knowledge and Ra- 
tional Entertainment — Containing Poetry, Musick, 
Biography, History, Physics, Geography, Morality, Criti- 
cism, Philosophy, Mathematicks, Agriculture, Architec- 
ture, Chemistry, Novels, Tales, Romances, Translations, 
News, Marriages and Deaths, Meteorological Observa- 
tions, etc., etc. But the desire to cover as wide a ground 
and to give as much as possible for the money is perhaps 
illustrated best by Mathew Carey's announcement that he 
had procured a set of smaller types (his type, like that 
of all the magazines, was already maddeningly minute) 
better calculated for the purpose of his magazine; as 
they would comprise one-third more matter than the for- 
mer in the same number of pages ! 

" In America," ran the announcement of the Philadel- 
phia Monthly Magazine, " periodical publications may 
properly be termed the literature of the people. The state 
of manufactures, agriculture, arts may as yet be deemed 
in their infancy, and in them new discoveries and im- 
provements are daily making. We solicit the aid of our 
readers that these may become known. Medical Facts 
and observations, Law Cases and Decisions, together with 
the miscellaneous material which usually adorns a maga- 
zine we intend to publish. Magazine poetry has usually 


been considered as synonymous with the most trivial and 
imperfect attempts at verse-writing [in 1798!], but no 
piece will be admitted which cannot lay claim to true 
genius and poetic merit. Review of new publications will 
proceed generally by extracts." 

It is possible that each new editor, even with before 
him examples of constant failure, hoped to make some 
money (if he did, he spent it at once on enlargement), 
and certainly he expected to pay expenses. But chiefly 
he thought of himself as a torch-bearer. To popularise 
literature in the States, where few books of literature 
were read and almost none were published ; to disseminate 
news of improved ways of doing things among people 
who would never hear of them otherwise — this was their 
high calling. Making all allowance for their stately and 
diplomatic periods, it animates every line of their an- 

Nor did either editors or contributors apparently have 
any desire to exploit themselves. Anonymity was in 
general the rule of the day. The editors of the Chris- 
tian's, Scholar s and Farmer's sincerely regret that want 
of leisure will oblige them to discontinue it. As not 
literary fame but the benefit of mankind was the great 
object of the editors in publishing this miscellany, they 
beg leave still to conceal their names from public view. 
" The imprinted seal of secrecy forbids the development 
of names," announced the Massachusetts Magazine, " but 
the late graduated sons of Harvard and Hanover will 
pardon the well-founded presumption that our readers 
are greatly indebted to many of them for the instructive 
essay or the amusing tale." Most of the articles were 
either unsigned or signed by fanciful names indicative of 
the style of the writer. There were almost no hired 
editors, they were often the printers and generally the 
proprietors. Thomas Paine was an exception. He was 
engaged by R. Aitken as editor of the Pennsylvania 
Magazine in 1775 at a salary of twenty-five pounds a 
year. The contract, says Isaiah Thomas, called for a 


certain quantity of original matter, but often he found it 
difficult to prevail on Paine to comply with his engage- 
ment. Aitken is responsible for the statement that Paine 
would never write for him without a decanter of brandy 
on the desk and the workmen waiting for the copy. The 
first prominent appearance of Freneau was in the United 
States Magazine with a metrical version of a psalm. 
It was of course unsigned, and a footnote says it was 
written " by a young gentleman to whom in the course 
of this work we are greatly indebted.'* The Weekly 
Magazine, begun in Philadelphia in 1898, introduces us^ 
to the first professional man of letters in America. It 
was The Man at Home, by Charles Brockden Brown, 
unsigned, and it ran through thirteen numbers. In the 
second volume he began his first important novel, Arthur 
Mervyn. Mathew Carey in the American Museum had 
a list of notable contributors — Franklin, Dr. Rush, Fre- 
neau, Trumbull, Humphreys, Francis Hopkinson, and 
Governor Livingston. Most of these articles appeared 
for the first time; and thus it is seen that Carey's boast 
that he had provided a medium to the literary talent for 
the country was well founded. He, alone of all the 
editors, said that he rapidly accumulated material beyond 
his needs. 

In September, 1786, the Columbian Magazine or 
Monthly Miscellany, was inaugurated by Mathew Carey 
and four others. It was modelled upon the Gentleman's 
Magazine and the London Magazine, and was decidedly 
the most ambitious periodical project yet undertaken in 
America. The expense of printing alone was said to be 
one hundred pounds a month. In December Carey with- 
drew, saying that he could not work with so many editors. 
The preface to volume one announced that the great pur- 
pose of the magazine was to communicate essays of 
entertainment without sacrificing decency to wit, and to 
disseminate, the works of science without sacrificing in- 
trinsic utility to a critical consideration of style and com- 
position ; and it indulged the pleasing and patriotic hope 


of advancing the best interests of society. Its obligations 
to society the Columbian, in common with most of our 
early magazines, took with extreme seriousness. " Os- 
myn of Bassora, an Eastern Tale," it answered a corre- 
spondent, " is prettily written, but to what end ? Unless 
rendered subservient to the interests of virtue, composi- 
tions of this kind are unworthy of attention. However 
distinguished, they are but a splendid nothing." What 
tales it published were patently edifying, as may be 
guessed from their titles: Chariessa, or a Pattern for 
the Sex; Angelico, or the Munificent Heiress; The 
Danger of Sporting with Innocent Credulity. The 
writer of Some Verses On Applying Pigeons to a Lady's 
Feet When Dying is informed that the circumstance 
is in their opinion very improper for a subject of gal- 
lantry. Nor are they by any means content with matter 
alone; form is to be regarded. Lavinia, Junior, is told 
though her poem is replete with good sentiments, as a 
poem it is not sufficiently correct and finished; however 
disposed they might be to favour a young female pen 
which seems to merit encouragement, the public eye will 
make no allowances. The Western Tour is too much 
like verse to be good prose and too prosaic to be anything 
like a poem. The address to the Public affixed to volume 
two reads as follows : " The completion of another year 
furnishes the customary opportunity of rendering our 
thanks to those who have contributed to support this 
work by their subscriptions or to embellish it by the exer- 
cise of their talents. If the public find no reason to be dis- 
satisfied with the number or variety of the latter descrip- 
tion, the proprietors will feel less disposition to lament 
the insufficiency of the former. They have uniformly 
declared that the emoluments which might well have been 

I expected from their undertaking formed but a secondary 
object; and in truth, as the account stands, after some- 
thing more than two years of labour and expence, unless 
they have succeeded in affording a rational entertainment 
i^o their readers, they must suffer the mortification of a 


defeat in every hope." Variety they had certainly 
afforded: literary essays grave and light; The For- 
esters, an American tale in several instalments portray- 
ing the history of the country and of the Constitution; 
also in instalments the History of the Late War, and the 
biography of Governor Winthrop; many articles of in- 
formation on improvements in agriculture and manu- 
facture; regular departments of Historical Scraps, For- 
eign and Domestic Intelligence, Law Budget, Literary 
and Political Fables, Household Receipts, The Columbian 
Parnassiad, Marriage and Death Announcements from 
all the States, and Meteorological Observations. In May, 
1789, the magazine gave an extended account of Wash- 
ington's progress to New York and his receptions on the 
way. For entertainment there are the usual letters to an 
Old Bachelor and from Maiden Aunts to their' Nieces ; 
a humorous description of the manners and fashions of 
London, in a letter from a Citizen of America to his 
correspondent in Philadelphia ; and letters on the state of 
society in Philadelphia and the various pursuits of social 
pleasure. This last is by The Trifler, who conducts a 
regular department in a sprightly fashion. 

This city, Mr. Trifler, differs very essentially from New York 
in the great outlines of society. In Philadelphia there are sev- 
eral classes of company — the cream, the new-milk, the skim- 
milk, and the canaille (as I have heard them whimsically di- 
vided) ; but in New York there are only the genteel and the vul- 
gar. In the latter place every person whose manners and edu- 
cation are above the vulgar, is entitled to rank with the genteel ; 
but in the former all the modifications of birth, fortune, and pol- 
itics are to be consulted in order to ascertain the upper circle of 
acquaintance. The cream generally curdles into a small group 
in the most eligible situation in the room; the new milk seems 
floating between the wish to coalesce with the cream and to es- 
cape from the skim-milk ; and the skim-milk in a fluent kind of 
independence laughs at the anxiety of the new-milk and grows 
sower upon the arrogance of the cream. Hence it is, sir, that 
our concerts and assemblies have lost their charms — for the 
superiority established on the one hand and the mortification 
felt upon the other, seem to have produced the resolution, that 



never again shall the ears of cream and new-milk listen to the 
same melody, or their feet caper in the same dance. Notwith- 
standing these variances, however, each class closely imitates its 
immediate superior; and from the conduct of one you may easily 
conceive the conduct of all. 

Florio has fretted himself into a fever that almost cost him his 
life, because a modest taylor had made a yellow pair of breeches 
decently large for his limbs, and had not carried the cape of 
his coat as high as the crown of his hat. It is not within the 
scope of my present subject to animadvert upon a fashion which 
exposes some things that aught not to be seen and conceals 
others which need not be hidden ; but I will mention en passant 
that it is reported one part of the fashion was introduced by 
an Irish gentleman and the other by an unfortunate adventurer 
who wished to keep from public view the odious depredations 
of the pillory. Of the female dresses it may be said that for- 
ever changing they are still the same. Miss Becky Catastrophe, 
a young lady of diminutive size, has quitted the ball room in 
the extremest mortification because her bishop was not as large 
as Mrs. McRump's, a matron whose natural swell might have 
disclaimed the assistance of art; and Mrs. Palace has scarcely 
excited so much envy by the elegance of her manners and the 
brilliancy of her equipage as by her voluminous craw, which, 
like the fortifications of Gibraltar, serves to keep everybody at 
a distance, but then the difficulty of conveying provisions to the 
garrison is equally great in both instances. 

The preface to volume three reads : " The utility of a 
comprehensive periodical miscellany as it tends to diffuse 
knowledge among all ranks, has been acknowledged in 
every government, but in America the importance of such 
a work is extremely obvious. The literati are therefore 
earnestly requested to favour this native production with 
their communications, and it is hoped the public in general 
will lend their names to the list of its supporters." The 
increase of the latter under the new plan, they announce 
gratefully, is considerable; and they have obtained a 
circulation also in different parts of Europe and the West 
Indies. The new plan, occasioned by their merger with 
a projected magazine, brought them a new title. The 
Universal Asylum and Columbian. This was issued 
" By a Society of Gentlemen," whereas the previous 
editor had been Dallas. Part of the latter's policy was 


to report the debates of the State Convention; and the 
Federalists, becoming annoyed at his attitude, finally with- 
drew their subscriptions. Benjamin Rush had written to 
Noah Webster (Mr. Albert Smyth tells us in his Phila- 
delphia Magazines), "From the impudent conduct of 
Mr. Dallas in misrepresenting the proceedings and 
speeches in the Pennsylvania Convention, as well as from 
his deficiency of matter, the Columbian Magazine of 
which he is editor is in the decline." But most of its 
readers did not agree with him. The pages had been 
increased from fifty- four to sixty without additional 
expense to the subscribers and not less than two copper- 
plates published. An Impartial Review of American 
Publications had been added, and the proprietors an- 
nounced that they intended to make this a permanent basis 
on which a more extensive review might be established. 
At times a second edition was necessary, and the types 
were reset at great expense. An appendix was published 
containing the laws of the United States, and these with 
the Political Register, it was hoped would extend the 
usefulness of the magazine. It printed also many 
authentic documents in its history of the Revolution, 
which ran through several volumes. 

In fact, the continued and increasing success of the 
Columbian made it unique among American eighteenth 
century magazines. Nor did it die, like most of them, of 
starvation. It preferred suicide with honour. The num- 
ber for January, 1792, they had increased to eighty pages 
to make room for a report on manufactures. A note on 
the cover read : " We fear it will not be in our power 
to forward this work to some gentlemen in the interior 
parts of the country unless Congress shall think it proper 
to amend the post-of?ice bill so as to place monthly on 
the same footing with daily or weekly publications." 
Congress did not think proper, and at the end of that 
year they announced their discontinuance. " The law 
which charges for monthly publication the postage rate 
on private letters or packages is a prohibition as injurious 


in its consequences as the principles on which it is founded 
are partial and oppressive. The postal laws of Great 
Britain, which transported magazines on the same terms 
as newspapers, were continued in America for some 
years; and the salutary effects were apparent in the 
political and other useful information diffused among the 
people. That this privilege should be wrested from them 
so soon after their struggle for liberty and equal rights 
is at once a subject for astonishment and regret. The 
operation of this unequal and oppressive law having 
rendered it impossible to convey this miscellany to their 
numerous subscribers in the interior parts of this country 
but at the expence of losing a great proportion of them 
through a bad conveyance, they have determined to re- 
linquish the undertaking and employ their time and 
capital in a way which may be more conducive to their 
private interest." 

From the very first the magazines had cocked a dis- 
dainful calculating eye on the woman-interest. Of the 
twenty-three articles in a number of the General Maga- 
zine ten are connected with parliamentary proceedings. 
The others are religious, philosophical, or informational, 
the lightest being a dialogue against ridiculing personal 
defects. In the midst of all this comes oddly a package 
of letters from a Mrs. Martha Harward, purporting to be 
genuine and found after her decease. " The fate of the 
writer," reads the head-line, " is a strong instance of the 
violence of human passions when they get loose from the 
government of reason and the restraints of religion." 
The lines are a poignant cry in a humdrum world. On 
the back of one incoherent sobbing letter is this super- 
scription. ** To the most inhuman of his sex, W. P. 
Read, Betrayer, read, pity one moment. But ever forgive 
your Patty. For yours, come happiness or woe I ever 
am. Could I have parted any other way, I for your dear 
sake would. Impossible was it to live without your love. 
Forgive, my dear, dear Creature. To Death, to all 
Eternity must my soul adore her Billy. Forgive too 


severe Reproaches. You could not love; oh, how could 
such a wretch as I expect it. Adieu forever to your 
wretched Darling Patty." Poor Patty! Excellent op- 
portunity for sermonising as her letters afford, one feels 
resentfully that they were made to suffer this last in- 
dignity of all not so much to point a moral as to adorn a 
tale — to add one touch of crimson colour to an otherwise 
dull page. 

So all along. With a dancing-master bow, derisively 
de rigiieur, the editors make their compliments to ladies, 
exploiting their sins and their follies and their vanities 
while pretending to censure them — for the sake of the 
human interest the long list of failures had shown was 
indispensable. The Royal American, Boston, began life 
in 1774, an exceptionally grave magazine, with such a 
sense of fact, indeed, that a number was delayed a week 
on account of the Meteorological Register and finally 
printed with an explanation for its absence. But as time 
went on it felt the need of popularising, and began to 
insert letters from lorn or perplexed females. " Sir : 
I am addressed by two gentlemen of equal merit but show 
neither the least encouragement, and assure them I am 
determined never to alter my present happy state of life. 
But these, they say, are things of course, for all women 
say the same. Pray, Sir, is it not a misfortune that a 
woman's resolution carries no weight? and must those 
who have fortitude enough suffer for the inconstancy of 
the rest of the sex? By indulging this a place in your 
magazine, I hope to put a stop to their pretensions. Your 
obliged Humble Servant, Rosalinda." " Mr. Editor, 
does not conjugal happiness immediately decrease, or does 
the fondest husband * after matrimony's over Hold out 
more than half a lover ' ? And is not this a considerable 
objection against matrimony? In your next I expect an 
answer. Yours, etc., Lucy." But Lucy never heard, for 
there was no next. The magazine ended abruptly on 
account of the Revolution. It is another of the few 
magazines that did not die of starvation ; nor did it seem 


likely that it would have done so, for Isaiah Thomas, who 
printed it for six months of its eleven, says it had a hand- 
some list of subscribers. It had had a tempestuous 
career. The prospectus was issued many months before 
its first number, but the turbulent state of public affairs 
delayed its appearance* and fretted its brief existence, and 
the blockade of the port finally compelled it to suspend. 

The first magazine that openly catered to women was 
the Gentleman and Lady's Town and Country, Boston, 
sold at Shakespear's Head. It appeared in 1784 and was 
only a nine months' wonder. Its tone was rather brisk, 
and its desire for a wider variety than had been obtained 
before was somewhat unfortunately symbolised by its 
several styles of type. Their wish was " to please rather 
than to wound, woman the noblest work of God." In 
the first number the editors present their most respectful 
compliments and solicit the Candour of the public in 
favour of the magazine which is now submitted to the 
benevolent age. The embellishment of a frontispiece and 
other plates they could not obtain, but take the liberty of 
proffering a beautiful engraving from the design of an 
excellent master to be bound up with the volume at the 
close of the year. The list of Births, Deaths, and Mar- 
riages, etc., will be procured and duly inserted from this 
and the neighbouring towns. In the room of Meteoro- 
logical Observations they flatter themselves to afford 
something more agreeable to the general taste than the 
account of snow-storms after the sky is serene or the 
history of North Westers when the wind is South East. 
A pleasing hope is indulged that the Learned and Ingeni- 
ous will honour them with a valuable correspondence. 
All pieces of merit will be carefully noticed, and those 
which are refused neither blasted by indelicate censure nor 
solemn criticism. The Ladies in particular are requested 
to patronise this work by adding the elegant polish of 
the Female Pencil, where purity of sentiment and impas- 
sioned fancy are happily blended together. 

The policy of this magazine was decidedly to pamper 


the ladies. Most of the tales are love-tales, and there are 
many more than usual. Those traditional elegant em- 
ployments of women, poetical enigmas and rebuses, are 
conspicuous; and the department of Parnassian Blossoms 
grew and waxed fat. Its essays show flattering attention 
to the gentler kind. The Advantages of a Mutual Cor- 
respondence Between the Two Sexes ; Desultory Thoughts 
Upon the Utility of Encouraging a Degree of Self- 
Complacency, Especially in Female Bosoms; Advice to 
a Young Lady Concerning Marriage (wherein Leonora 
is advised to emulate the example of Maria, whose 
modesty will not permit her to attend more than one 
ball a winter and even then accompanied by her hus- 
band) ; Rules and Maxims for Promoting Matrimonial 
Happiness, Addressed to Ladies (wherein they are 
cautioned to read frequently the marriage service not 
overlooking the word Obey, and to consider that the 
person they are going to spend their days with is a man 
not an angel, and not to dispute with him be the occa- 
sion what it will). Interest was adroitly carried over 
from month to month by letters and advertisements. 
C. N. announces that he wants a wife who will agree 
to his system of economy and is agreeable in her per- 
son, " with such perfections as are necessary for my 
circumstances, who will give up luxuries and propa- 
gate love." Such a lady will favour him by giving him 
notice in the next month's production. Julia, in reply, 
says she is one of many prudent, discreet females, un- 
married and as capable of propagating love as himself; 
she desires, however, a description of his person in the 
next number before advancing further. A. B. writes 
that her husband left her shortly after the conjugal rites 
were ended and, void to all humanity, took a second wife ; 
she wants to know, since her husband married first, if 
she can lawfully marry during his life; or if it is felony 
in her, was it not in him also ? 

Scarcely longer lived the second magazine which recog- 
nised the sex in its title. This one, published in Philadel- 


phia in 1792, By a Literary Society, announced itself as 
being entirely devoted to their affairs, and was called 
the Lady's Magazine and Repository of Entertaining 
Knowledge. The announcement is of unusual interest 
in several ways. 

The first volume of the Lady's Magazine is now submitted in 
all deference to the perusal of the fair daughters of Columbia. 
The extraordinary marks of applause with which the Ladies of 
Philadelphia received the proposals for this work claims our 
warmest acknowledgments. The female patronesses of litera- 
ture while they discover an understanding in the fairest part of 
intelligent creation to distinguish works of real merit from the 
false glare of empty profession, at the same time also shed a 
lustre on the amiable qualities which adorn the minds of the 
fair. It is theirs to give ease to the weary traveller in the 
rugged paths of science and soften the rigours of intense study ; 
it is theirs to chace the diffidence of bashful merit and give real 
dignity to the boldest thought. As to the reception this publi- 
cation may meet with in the world of literature, we hope we are 
secure from the attacks of envy or malevolence, since it is de- 
voted to the fair sex. Every lover of the ladies will stand forth 
as a champion in defence of a work peculiarly calculated for 
the instruction and amusement of the lovely. It has been ob- 
served that monthly magazines are so contracted that they leave 
the reader in ignorance and suspence from one month to an- 
other as to the sequel or winding up of an interesting piece. 
It is proposed to have the Lady's Magazine published every six 
months in a handsome large octavo volume of at least three 
hundred pages, ornamented with an elegent frontispiece and 
marble cover. It is presumed the above mode of publishing a 
work of this nature will be preferred to a monthly one, as it 
shall never be stuffed with that disgusting and worn-out ex- 
pression to he continued. The sex in general may rely on the 
editor's utmost endeavours to render it one of the most lively 
and instructive publications now in circulation. Their corre- 
spondence is respectfully requested in either poetry or prose. 
The elegant productions of their pen have hitherto adorned the 
most valuable libraries, and it is expected the females of Phila- 
delphia are by no means deficient in those talents which have 
immortalised the names of a Montague, a Craven, a More, and 
a Seward in their inimitable writings. If the present work 
meets with the encouragement we have reason to expect, it is 
intended to adorn the succeeding volumes with an engraving to 
each number, with the addition of the newest and most fashion- 
able patterns of needlework for gowns, aprons, etc. 


The frontispiece presents the Genius of the Ladies' 
Magazine accompanied by the Genius of Emulation, who 
carries in her hand a laurel crown, approaching Liberty 
and submitting to her, kneeling, a copy of the Rights Of 
Woman. But lest you may think you have in this poetic 
allegory an early harbinger of the suffrage movement, let 
us hasten to quote further from the announcement. 
" Persons of erudition and learning have suggested to us 
that a book of this kind will be universally recommended 
in all boarding schools throughout the country — as it is 
to contain everything requisite to disseminate the knowl- 
edge of real life, portray virtue in the most amiable point 
of view, inspire the Female Mind with a love of religion, 
of patience, prudence, and fortitude. In short, whatever 
tends to form the accomplished Woman, the Complete 
Economist, and the greatest of all treasures, A Good 

The first number disclosed an adroitness worthy of 
longer life than a year. A number of letters were pub- 
lished. " The men have every access to books at college, 
but our sex are kept at very short allowance by our par- 
ents, who are afraid to give us improper books and do not 
know what are or are not proper. Signed, A Multitude 
of Subscribers." " We are of the opinion that you ought 
frequently to give us articles that are calculated for gentle- 
men; I would therefore advise you to omit many things 
that are of the feminine kind. Signed, More Than One 
Half Your Subscribers." Miranda writes that she is 
tired of the continual reprehensions of woman's dress 
and recommends that other subjects be found for censure 
or satire. Matrona is glad to hear the follies and the 
foibles of the sex will appear in their true colours, espe- 
cially the modes of dress, which are becoming every day 
more and more ridiculous. Mary, Lydia, and Rebecca 
write that they have nothing in their library but old 
musty Spectators and hope that they may hear of all the 
new novels and plays. Hannah Motherly writes that 
they must caution the fair against fiction. Simon Soberly 


and Tim Noodle write what you might expect of them. 
These and similar letters the editor presents with an 
intimation that every taste will be satisfied, and with dark 
allusions to the farmer who tried to please every one in 
his treatment of his ass. 

There is a series called the Ladies* Friend (wherein 
Emilia thinks aloud on bash fulness, conjugal affection, 
benevolence, and the like) and also one called Letters 
From a Brother To A Sister at Boarding School. 
(Strangely prophetic of a more famous series in a much 
later Philadelphia magazine, the burden of which is the 
same.) Thus even in that newest of new things, a 
woman's paper, there is nothing new under our sun. 

In his preface to volume two of the American Museum 
Mathew Carey wrote : ** After a careful examination of 
the various shoals on which periodical publications have 
been wrecked in this and other countries, I am in dread 
of only one — which I am almost ashamed to intimate. 
This shoal is a w^ant of due punctuality in paying the 
subscriptions. These being small, each individual is but 
too apt to suppose it a matter of great indifference 
whether he pays his quota at the time appointed or in 
six or twelve months afterwards. This is a great mis- 
take. It is further to be observed that the expence of 
sending twice or thrice or, as is often the case, four times 
for the amount of a subscription, bears no small propor- 
tion to the sum received.'' This was, indeed, one of the 
chief reasons for wreckage. Whatever magazines sur- 
vive the year return thanks, though often somewhat 
hollowly, for increase of subscriptions but all call attention 
(with a doughty diplomacy in which no note of weariness 
is allowed to enter!) to the great number of old ones 
remaining unpaid. The Massachusetts Magazine, having 
weathered six volumes, regrets that the remissness of 
their subscribers at a distance (together with the appre- 
ciation of journey-work and the enhanced price of paper) 
will necessitate them to omit publication for three months 
aftei the completion of the present volume, to collect 


outstanding debts and make plans for resuming publica- 
tion on an improved plan. Isaiah Thomas inserts the 
following notice in his Worcester Magazine — a weekly 
" Containing Politicks, Miscellanies, Poetry, and News,'* 
published 1 786-1 788 as a substitute for his newspaper, 
the Spy, in order to avoid the tax on newspapers, which 
he thought an improper restraint on the press. 

Please to Read it! Somehow or other, many persons who 
subscribe to newspapers and magazines never bother themselves 
to make payment. When the Printer gives by way of advertise- 
ment a general dun, they either think that they are not called 
upon or whether they pay or not it will be of little consequence 
as the debt is small, or they content themselves with thinking 
that sometime or other they will call or send him the money 
due,, or otherwise they will send him some articles of produce 
to discharge their accounts. Thus by some means or other the 
printer remains unpaid. He now requests All who are indebted 
to him (Post- Riders are also desired to remember that they are 
included in the word All) to come and settle with him. If 
brought within three weeks from the date, he will receive the 
following articles of produce in payment, viz.: Wood by the 
load or cord. Butter, Cheese, Beef, Pork, Wheat Flour by the 
Barrel, Rye and Indian Corn, Wheat, and Flax Seed. For all 
these articles the market price will be paid. Those who now 
neglect to pay him will not think themselves ill-used if their ac- 
counts are lodged with a Magistrate. 

The South Carolina Weekly Museum, a magazine of 
thirty-two pages, took the unusual liberty of announcing 
in stern accents on the completion of its first volume, in 
1797, that it would not deviate from the rule of making 
theirs altogether a Cash business. Their severity in this 
respect did not de-humanise them in other ways, however, 
for they announce also that the unavoidable delay in 
getting out the first, the January, number arose because 
the festive season had been celebrated by some of their 
hands in a more liberal manner than usual ; and to make 
up the deficiency they had added a supplement and would 
at the end of six months present the public with an addi- 
tional number. One of the favourite tricks to catch the 
dilatory subscriber was the presentation of the seventh 


number gratis on payment for the preceding six. The 
attempt to make the subscriber pay half his year's sub- 
scription on receipt of the first number never seems to 
have succeeded. In one v^ay and another most of the 
magazines echoed the New American published in 1758 at 
Woodbridge, Nev^ Jersey, by Sylvanus Americanus. 
" This number completing the first quarter, v^e earnestly 
hope our kind subscribers v^ill now (agreeable to the 
proposals) discharge their arrears to the Gentleman 
who took in their subscriptions, that we may be enabled 
to proceed in this expensive undertaking." As this maga- 
zine was a very tidy little affair, the expense must have 
been considerable; but in this case as in most of the 
others the kind (or courteous or respectable or obliging 
or generous) patrons remained adamant, and the editor 

Charles Brockden Brown, who seems always to have 
had the magazine bee buzzing in his bonnet, wrote to 
his brother some time before he started in 1799, the 
New York Monthly, his first periodical : " Four hundred 
subscribers will repay the annual expence of sixteen hun- 
dred dollars. As soon as this number is obtained, the 
printers will begin and trust to the punctual payment of 
these for reimbursement. All above four hundred will 
be a clear profit for me; one thousand subscribers will 
provide $4,500 and deducting the annual expence will 
leave $2,700." Thus it will be seen from this calculation 
(which proved like that of the potter who carried the 
tray on his head) that the expense of running a magazine 
was not very great. At the end of the first volume of the 
Philadelphia Monthly Magazine, 1798, the editor returns 
thanks to his nine hundred subscribers, but hopes that a 
more extensive circulation will allow him to engage men 
of talent to help him, for the whole business of editing, 
attending the press, and circulating the numbers is now 
done by himself, Thomas Condie. The story was every- 
where the same whether the editor could afford to get 
any one to help him or not. Mathew Carey, in his auto- 


biography, said of the American Museum, " I was much 
attached to this work and had great reluctance to abandon 
it, unproductive and vexatious as was the management 
of it." 

The gallant story is perhaps best told in the various 
announcements of the New York Magazine which, begun 
in 1790, had an exceptionally long career. This was a 
publication of sixty-four pages, and George Washington 
and John Adams headed the list of subscribers. The 
preface to volume two hints at the well-known fact that 
they could employ their press to more advantage in the 
present state of pecuniary emoluments, but they will con- 
tinue in the hope that they will derive a compensation 
from the liberality of their fellow-citizens. The growing 
opulence of the city induces them to believe that they will 
one day meet the reward of their present labours. 
Volume three announces that though the subscription is 
still lacking, the magazine has thus far outlived any at- 
tempts of the kind heretofore made in the city. Volume 
four says that the history of printing could be challenged 
for a single instance of persons willing to persevere in 
a work whose profits were so very inadequate. Their 
own particular interest and the profession of holding up 
the Literary Reputation of this city are equally responsible 
for the continuance. In the latter respect they have been 
successful to a degree beyond expectancy. The typo- 
graphical part has been executed in a manner that makes 
them proud. Such engravings as have appeared have 
been executed in as neat a manner as could be done on 
this side of the Atlantic, the print is beautiful. Volume 
six says it has often been remarked that literature receives 
but a partial welcome in the United States, and with re- 
spect to magazines the observation is trite that their 
patrons are too few in number to render an undertaking 
of that kind an object worthy of attention either as it 
respects emolument or improvement. " It is impossible 
to arrest the attention of those attached to the active 
scene of business. In the pleasure with which we present 


this volume, we have only to regret that the number is 
not so respectable as the class addressed." The next 
volume is made to begin a new series, so that subscribers 
may neither possess an incomplete work nor go to the 
expense of procuring the six preceding volumes. These 
considerations, they think, have withheld some new sub- 
scribers. The proprietors have not heretofore secured 
a reasonable compensation for printing, exclusive of the 
labour of editing. The preface to the second volume of 
the new series announces that the magazine has toiled 
eight long years, but the harvests have been poor indeed. 
" Shall every attempt of this nature desist in these 
States ? Shall our country be stigmatised, odiously stig- 
matised, with want of taste for literature? " 

The appeal to patriotism is everywhere voiced by these 
sturdy soldiers of a forlorn hope. The United States 
in 1779 had announced that America must show that she 
was able to cultivate the belles-lettres, even disconnected 
with Great Britain, and disprove^the British jeer that the 
colonies when separated from England would become 
mere illiterate ourang-outangs. " Foreigners view works 
of this nature as evidence of the literary character of our 
city," implored the New York Magazine. " Shall we not 
then exert ourselves to appear as respectable abroad as 
we really are at home? Strangers generally refer their 
decision of the state of learning to the number of original 
compositions a place boasts. Though originality is not 
an absolute requisite to the composition of a good maga- 
zine, nevertheless it is a weighty consideration. Num- 
bers of the Sons and Daughters of Columbia are well 
qualified to shine in the walks of literature. Let each, 
then, lend a helping hand." Even more vigorous appeals 
were made in the name of local pride. " We believe it to 
be pretty generally the case," said this magazine, " that 
other periodicals of America receive considerable support 
from neighbouring States, but such is not the case with 
us. No one will ever doubt the ability of the city of New 
York to support a monthly publication," it continues with 


all the emphasis of uneasiness. The editor of the Ameri- 
can in 1787 in announcing his discontinuance with the 
twelfth number had said, " Business will require the pro- 
prietor to leave the city immediately on the delivery of 
this number, and whether the most flourishing city in 
America will continue and support this periodical remains 
yet to be determined." The Nightingale or A Melange 
de Literature, Boston, 1796, in announcing a change in 
its policy piped a shrill key : " We are sanguine that a 
literary periodical can be supported in America. It has 
been suggested that the inhabitants of Boston prefer 
viewing the manifest of a ship's cargo to a lounge in the 
library. Let it not be said that in the pursuit of gain. 
Literature and the Muses are left at a distance, and that 
a sordid lust for gold has banished every noble sentiment, 
every mental delight from the bosoms of the avaricious 
Bostonians. God forbid that any foe to our country ever 
shall have reason to say that our native town is the resi- 
dence of Ignorance, though it should be the emporium of 

One is profoundly impressed with the sporting blood 
of the devoted band. They entered the arena and shouted 
smilingly, " We who are about to die salute you ! " 
They bade their fellows godspeed and, later, a grim 
farewell. The Massachusetts Magazine said with its 
fourth volume : " Four years' experience has partly 
baffled the expectations of hope. The increase of sub- 
scriptions has unfortunately fallen below anticipation. 
Some part of the time alluded to another magazine re- 
ceived a degree of continuance in this State, and pub- 
lications of a similar nature were fostered in New Jersey, 
Pennsylvania, Nova Scotia, etc. Death though the de- 
stroyer of human hope often invigorates the confidence 
of the living. The American Museum, Columbian 
Asylum, New Jersey Repository, and Nova Scotia Magch 
sine are now no more. Their passing shades move si- 
lently along and beckon the Massachusetts Magazine to 
follow. Fond of life and anticipating length of days, 


she bids them a tender adieu and presses forward to the 
mark of the high calling of the Literati." Three years 
later its preface announces that it will go on in spite of 
difficulties. " As this is at present the only publication 
of the kind in the States, we fondly hope it will receive 
both literary and pecuniary assistance. Should it, how- 
ever, finally share the fate of all other American publica- 
tions of the kind, those who have been and still are in- 
terested in its success will have at least the satisfaction 
of reflecting that in comparison with the rest it died in a 
good old age." From 1789 to 1796, it was indeed a 
notable record. 



The Anthology began life with an insouciance scarcely 
decorous in the future parent of the North American 
Review, It is mildly disquieting when large coming 
events refuse to cast their shadow before. You fear that 
the world may be after all but a random affair. In one 
way, however, it must be owned that a characteristic note 
was sounded. The cover announced, " Edited by Syl- 
vanus Per Se." But sprightliness, not to say flippancy, 
awaited within. " Although we have the feeling of a 
parent for the publication before us, yet it may be proper 
to declare to the world that it is not indebted to us for 
birth nor was it born in our house. We knew neither its 
father nor its mother, nor hardly of its existence until 
naked, hungry, and helpless it was brought and laid at our 
door. In proportion as it engaged our care it won our 
affection. We shall give to our charge expensive ad- 
vantages, in order to make him extensively and per- 
manently useful." The " we " of this editorial later de- 
clared themselves to be " a society of gentlemen who have 
undertaken the publication merely for their own amuse- 
ment and for the diffusion of literary taste, and they 
would be satisfied to defray expenses and have no desire 
for remuneration ; the Anthology has never been a favour- 
ite with the public at large, nor were they ambitious of 
popularity, but the ablest pens of the country have 
praised them and their highest ideal is the pleasing con- 
sciousness of having done the State some service." This 
is well on in the fifth volume, however, and the Olympian 
accents of the future North American are now beginning 
to shape themselves. 

The first volume of the Monthly Anthology and Boston 


Review contained no such prescience. Though it had an 
air of saving something uncommon (proceeding perhaps 
from its professed indifference to remuneration) and 
printed occasional Latin poems, you might look in vain 
in the earlier numbers for any consciousness that it was a 
carrier of destiny. Indeed, it still pursued the pedestrian 
custom of publishing the month's marriages and births 
and deaths of the city of Boston. And although a 
translation of the Sanskrit Sakuntala ran through six 
numbers, still Matilda desired Mr. Editor to print the 
following verses, written by the intimate companion of 
her early years, of which — though they were not written 
to be published and she supposes will not bear criticising 
— she desires a fairer and more desirable copy than she 
can write herself. ( Fancy asking the parent of the North 
Aniericam Review to become one's amanuensis !) Silvius 
has a regular department of literary and social chat (a 
cosiness which was sternly rebuked in the second genera- 
tion) ; and there were the Literary Wanderer, The Re- 
marker, The Family Physician, and The Botanist to but- 
tonhole you monthly in a somewhat superior but still 
neighbourly fashion. Yet already, in the second volume, 
there was a faint premonition of that Nirvana which its 
enemies (soured New Yorkers) maliciously hinted that 
it had reached two-score years later. The editors dis- 
missed the year with neither pride nor depression; the 
work had amused many idle hours; they have endeav- 
oured to diffuse an undefiled taste; if they had been at 
times severe, it was because the disorders of American 
literature were to be cured only by the lancet. But they 
added an expression which by no stretch of the imagina- 
tion can one picture the North American of the mid- 
century employing — " we have endeavoured to add to the 
general stock of innocent gaiety " ; and, also, they had be- 
come worldly enough to confess satisfaction at seeing their 
subscribers doubled within the year. Like all the editors 
of our splendid-spirited early magazines, they took oc- 
casion of the increase of subscription to enlarge; and, 


unlike the rest, they had by this time a concrete and spe- 
cific object in addition to their wider pubHc service. 
All the surplus was to be applied to the support and in- 
crease of a Public Library. There never was any sur- 
plus ; in fact, the Anthology Club relinquished their pub- 
lication at the end of the tenth volume, because the mem- 
bers felt that they could lose money to better advantage, 
but that did not prevent them from leaving another fine 
memorial of their civic conscience in the shape of the Bos- 
ton Athenaeum. 

The Anthology, it is true, never quite achieved the 
rotund voice, the makings of which it bequeathed to the 
North American; but it is interesting to see the resonance 
gathering strength in their yearly addresses. And even 
in the beginning, it was thought sufficiently chesty by the 
Emerald — which had its high ideals also, for " though 
variety of subject was to be its sedulous endeavour, they 
always stood willing to sacrifice it to elegance of expres- 
sion, chastity of thought, and value of information." 
There now exists no literary paper but the Anthology in 
this place, it went on to say, and the gravity of its pages 
would claim little that could be suitable to those of the 
Emerald. The Anthology in 1811 would never have 
dreamed of returning to the vertiginosity of 1805. In 
that volume they regretted that while their predecessors 
had been uniformly favourites of the ladies, they received 
only frowns and neglect; but they had no intention of 
wooing the sex with love-tales or commentaries on 
fashion ; or acrostics and rebuses ; and furthermore their 
phizzes were too hopelessly ugly to be moulded into a 
simper or tortured into an ogle. Though patronage could 
be increased by making their work popular or insipid, they 
desire the praise only of those who relish manly thinking 
and manly literature. Volume four says that the Review 
is conducted under the conviction that public criticism 
upon writers for the public does not in itself imply either 
injustice or malevolence. " The respectable patronage 
now given the Anthology is sufficient to encourage their 


perseverance; and they trust that the love of letters and 
art will increase with the growing wealth of the country, 
which fosters luxury unless restrained by literature and 
taste. We may this year offer strictures on different 
modes of education." From this last sentence it may be 
gathered that the gait of the North American — that of 
offering strictures — was now being struck. The sixth 
volume establishes the stride quite distinctly. " The 
facility with which the promises of editors are made at 
the present day is exceeded only by the indifference with 
which they are broken ; so we will make no promises be- 
yond hoping that the Anthology will yet be the repository 
of the sound literature of New England. We have found 
that some publishers and editors have not scrupled at alter- 
ing English republications ; and our reviewers will particu- 
larly be on their guard against such liberties." In the 
seventh volume the tone becomes slightly playful again, 
but it is the Johnsonian playfulness of the conscious 
dictator. " Seven years is a great age among the literary 
ephemera of this country, and we have arrived at this 
degree of maturity in spite of innumerable predictions to 
the contrary. We almost flatter ourselves that our con- 
stitution and temperament are more vigorous and that 
our uncommon duration is not accidental, but is the evi- 
dence of something sound in our stamina. We have 
been accused of depreciating our own country and every- 
thing indigenous. Owing to some glaring faults in our 
scheme of widespread superficial education, we are 
harassed with a class of authors more numerous here, in 
proportion, than in any other country — worthless weeds 
springing up prematurely, and their number is augmented 
by those who have mistaken virtuous patriotic sentiments 
for inspiration. These we have felt bound to contribute 
our efforts to eradicate." 

This complaint, howxver justified at the period, is the 
badge of the high-toned. One cannot get so far back in 
literature that he fails altogether to hear that there is 
now a mob of gentlemen that write with ease. In Boston 


even the Royal American had said in 1774, when, like 
all the other magazines, it was constantly calling for copy : 
" We all write nowadays, learned and unlearned ; we 
write even though we cannot spell." The Anthology had 
often regretted that some persons of wit and sentiment of 
their acquaintance had not augmented their stock of en- 
tertainment or knowledge, and that it had to support itself 
on the unregulated contributions of a few literary men 
who were pleased with the public's profit or pleasure in 
their w-ritings but who had no extraordinary stimulus to 
write. Though the broth was almost entirely their own, 
they always felt that too many cooks were having a 
hand in it. At last, in 181 1, they made this announce- 

One of the greatest inconveniences we experience from 
month to month is that which arises from the want of an editor 
devoted to the work, whose literary reputation would in a 
measure be at stake. Hitherto the receipts of the Anthology 
have not enabled us to make such a provision. One of our 
number has voluntarily assumed the responsibility of seeing the 
work through the press ; and when the materials have not been 
furnished to his hands, he has been obliged to make such hasty 
selections, in order to complete the number of pages, as his 
leisure amidst professional engagements would permit. For 
this evil we have hopes of a speedy remedy, and if our hopes 
are not disappointed, the Anthology will be placed under the 
peculiar care of a gentleman whose learing, talents and taste 
will enable him to make it all that its friends can desire. 

This gentleman was apparently William Tudor, and it 
was he who, at the end of the tenth volume, merged it 
into the North American. Whatever the broth furnished 
by the first number of this, it was not spoiled by too many 
cooks, for Tudor wrote, with the exception of a poem, 
every one of its one hundred and fifty pages. Begin- 
ning life as a bi-monthly, it became a quarterly and then 
a monthly. Perhaps this youthful preoccupation with 
matters purely temporal is what prevents it now, in its 
old age, from classing itself with those magazines which 
take liberties with time throughout the year in order 


to get two Christmases into December. During its very 
first year the editor, in answering a complaint of delay, 
begged his distant subscribers to recollect that the number 
does not appear until the middle of the month by which it 
is dated, and even later. At first the new Americans 
were like the old Anthologies. The departments of gen- 
eral intelligence were retained, and even the practice re- 
sumed of publishing those fascinating documents, meteor- 
ological tables. Yet, though there were occasional 
anecdotes, there were no chatty letters or social descrip- 
tions and very little poetry. This last was not the editor's 
fault, however, as he says he has been so seldom favoured 
with poetical offerings that he rejects any with some 
regret and hesitation, and later congratulates himself that 
the department of Original Poetry is growing. But the 
earlier volumes are marked by the gradual retirement of 
the editor from public confidences; and on the seventh 
volume by the rigid retirement of fact as well as fancy, in 
the suppression of the departments of Poetry and In- 
telligence. The former lasted long enough to get in 
that trivial piece of work Thanatopsis, but not for a 
long period was the North American to open its august 
doors to any other poetical prattle. Already the reviews 
were increasing in length and showed the tendency to 
group several books into an article of fifty pages or more 
on the British type, in which the books are but corpora 
vilia — sloven and unhandsome corpses which arouse the 
author's reflective remonstrance by coming between the 
wind and his nobility. Tudor, from the beginning, 
sought to emancipate the magazine from the somewhat 
Bostonian tone of its parent, although his efforts toward a 
general circulation were content with attempting to widen 
the material rather than the subscription list. " I tried to 
abstract myself," he wrote, " from the narrow prejudices 
of locality, however I might feel them." An article in 
the second volume lamented the literary delinquency of 
America and its dependence on England — we have not 
yet made an attempt toward a literature of our own, it 


said. But Tudor, justly, wrote afterward, in his Miscel- 
lanies : 

The North American certainly shows that there Is a consid- 
erable stock of literature already accumulated in the country, 
when such a journal should have continued for several years 
increasing in value and preserving itself from the bigoted sway 
of any political or religious party. 

Though Tudor reported growing patronage, the en- 
terprise was supported by a club of gentlemen who sus- 
tained the same relation to it as had the Anthology Club 
to its monthly. For several years it was necessary for 
them to dip into their pockets at their regular suppers 
and dinners. In 1817 Jared Sparks, then a tutor at 
Harvard, wrote to a friend : 

It will doubtless be strange news to you to hear that I have 
engaged to take charge of the North American Review after 
the next number, when Mr. Tudor resigns. A certain number 
of our most distinguished literary gentlemen have associated 
themselves and agreed to furnish articles in their turn, and it is 
on this condition only that I would engage in the affair. 

The difficulties in the way of getting good articles and 
of holding up benevolent gentlemen to their own good in- 
tentions — says H. B. Adams in his Life of Jared 
Sparks, which contains the fullest and most docu- 
mentary account of the early years of the magazine — 
began to dawn upon the young editor before his first 
number was ready. In 18 19 Sparks went to Baltimore 
and was succeeded by Edward T. Channing, who resigned 
soon after to take a chair at Harvard (later editors found 
no difficulty in holding down the two chairs at once) and 
was followed by Edward Everett. Duyckinck says that 
Dana was in line for the editorship but was considered 
too unpopular, whereupon he resigned from the staff and 
left the club. The departure of Sparks to Baltimore 
was of great consequence to the magazine, for he per- 
formed even more valuable service for it when absent 
than when present. By his work among his new friends 
and his constant correspondence with Channing and , 



Everett he widened its influence and helped to make it 
our first approximation to a national magazine. When he 
returned in 1823 to conduct it again, it showed at once 
the effects of his wider horizon; and his first important 
articles were upon the colonisation movement and upon 
Baltimore. Furthermore, he had been industriously ex- 
tending the subscription list all the while he was away and 
helping Channing and Everett to introduce business 
methods in circulating the magazine — something which 
Tudor had never even attempted. Once again editor, he 
employed better business agents and established many 
new local connections throughout the country, with the 
result that its circulation rapidly increased. 

The North American Review Club, continues Adams, 
for several years controlled the policy of the magazine, 
both editorial and financial. 

Edward Everett wrote Sparks in 1820: "The North Amer- 
ican Club voted to ask you to write a paper." T. Parsons 
wrote Sparks in 1822: "I shall never write again for the 
North American without being paid for it, and the question of 
pay or not pay is now agitating the Club. None of the own- 
ers of the book work but Everett and you." Everett, who had 
rapidly conformed his magazine to the English type, wrote him 
frankly in 182 1 : " Your remark against its want of American- 
ism is just, but you must remember some things: First, you 
cannot pour anything out of the vessel but what is in it. I am 
obliged to depend on myself more than any other person, and 
I must write that which will run fastest. I am ashamed of this, 
but I cannot help it. Second, there is really a dearth of Ameri- 
can topics: the American books are too poor to praise, and to 
abuse them will not do. Third, the people round here, our most 
numerous and oldest friends, have not the raging Americanism 
that reigns in your quarter." J. G. Palfrey wrote Sparks in 
1823: "Everett informs us that he has informed you that he 
resigns the North American to you, on condition of your edit- 
ing it in Boston, and on the same terms that he has done." 

' With the advent of Sparks came not only a far more 
substantial subscription list, but pay for the writers. 
This was uniformly one dollar a page, and no copy thrown 
in. " Every writer pays for his book like any other sub- 


scriber," said Sparks. The remark illustrates not only 
the definiteness of the new business management, but the 
old idea that to see one's self in print was a solid com- 
pensation. It was an idea that persisted many years 
both with shaky and with stable magazines. But the new^ 
policy of paying their writers did not impede the maga- 
zine's success. 

*' For the last seven years," Sparks wrote Everett in 1828, 
"the work has increased in value about $2,000 a year. I paid 
for it $10,900. The first two years I had it I realised very 
little. I then sold a quarter of it to Mr. Gray [for $4,000], 
with the agreement that he should have out of the proceeds 
$1,100 a year as publisher and I $2,200 a year as editor; and if 
anything remained, it was to be divided according to the re- 
spective value of our shares. The largest amount that I have 
ever received in a year was $2,283 — this was my compensation 
as editor and for the interest on the amount of my share, three- 
quarters of the whole. The work was valued last May at 
$20,705. If you are inclined to purchase one-quarter of it, you 
shall have it for $5,000. I will then agree to receive as editor 
$1,500, and Mr. Gray shall have $1,100 as publisher. The sur- 
plus will be divided according to our respective shares, it being 
understood that I shall be paid for what I write at the same 
rate as yourself. The exact number of efficient subscribers I 
cannot tell. I doubt whether it is more than 3,200. We shall 
scarcely expect the same ratio of increase hereafter as hereto- 
fore. The new journals that have been set on foot, and with 
a considerable success, must in the nature of things, fill up 
some of the channels into which our work would otherwise 
run." Finally he sold his three-quarter interest to Alexander 
Everett, in 1830, for $15,000. "I am not very light-hearted 
about it," he wrote to one of his friends. " But I have sold it 
for $9,100 more than I gave for it; and during the six years 
that I owned it, I have actually realised from it $22,000." 

Prescott, who from 1821 to 1833 contributed annually 
an article to the magazine, came to the conclusion — says 
Ticknor — that criticising the works of others is all but 
worthless. Hence, the letter of his in 1837 may be 
slightly prejudiced. " The last number of the North 
American has found its way into our woods. I have only 
glanced at it, but it looks uncommonly weak and water- 


ish. I suppose the paltry price the North pays (all it can 
bear, too, I believe) will not command the variety of con- 
tributions and from the highest sources, as with the Eng- 
lish journals. For a' that, however, the old North is the 
best periodical we ever had or, considering its resources, 
are likely to have, for the present." 

As Irving was our first writer to obtain success abroad, 
so the North American was our first magazine to obtain 
an international reputation. The Edinburgh Revieiv, in 
noticing the Sketch Book, said : 

It is the work of an American entirely bred and trained in 
that country ; and it is the first American book, we rather think, 
of any description, but certainly the first purely literary pro- 
duction to which we could give the praise of being written 
throughout with the greatest care and accuracy, and worked up 
to great purity and beauty of diction on the model of the most 
elegant and polished of our native writers. The American 
genius has hitherto been defective in taste, certainly, rather 
than in talent. While we are upon the subject of American 
literature, we think ourselves called upon to state that we have 
lately received two numbers of the North American Review, 
or Miscellaneous Journal, published quarterly at Boston, which 
appears to us to be the best and most promising production of 
the press of that country that has ever come to our hands. It 
is written with great spirit, learning and ability, on a great 
variety of subjects; and abounds with profound and original 
discussions on the most interesting topics. Though abundantly 
patriotic, or rather national, there is nothing offensive or abso- 
lutely unreasonable in the tone of its politics; and no very 
reprehensible marks either of national partialities or antipa- 
thies. The style is generally good, though with considerable 
exceptions, and sins oftener from affectation than from ignor- 
ance. But the work is of a powerful and masculine character, 
and is decidedly superior to anything of the kind that existed 
in Europe twenty years ago. It is a proud thing for us to see 
Quarterly Reviews propagating bold truths and original specu- 
lations in all quarters of the world; and when we grow old and 
stupid ourselves, we hope still to be honoured in the talents and 
merits of those heirs of our principles and children of our 

It is amusing to see that a little later, in 1826, Alexander 
Everett was writing Sparks from Madrid : " Properly 


managed and followed up with spirit, it ought in time to 
take the place of the Edinburgh and Quarterly, which are 
at present mostly job-work and have nearly lost the vital 
spark that made them popular." He added that he 
doubted whether the President of the United States had 
a higher trust to be accountable for than the editor of the 
North American. This has been a congenial view for 
many editors of the magazine in its admirable career 
since. But some people abroad derived from it, as 
Everett implied, their only notion of American affairs. 
In 1826 there was a regular sale of over one hundred 
copies a month in London and twelve copies in remote 
Calcutta. And it had already become as disturbing a 
factor in one quarter as a President. For in 1824 it 
received the first, and for many decades to come the only, 
distinction of the kind ever accorded to an American 
magazine — that of being prohibited. On account of 
its anti-Bourbon spirit, France would not allow it to cross 
her frontiers. How is this for the record of a ten-year- 
old magazine which some persons at home were calling 
unAmerican ! 

Reviewing its editors in its centenary number, the North 
'American said that its great epochs were during the ad- 
ministration of Edward Everett, of his brother Alexander 
Everett, and of Lowell and Norton. Sparks had decid- 
edly failed to equal his predecessor and its high reputa- 
tion for strong and varied articles had fallen off, when in 
1830 Alexander took it and for six years restored it to 
the level which his brother had established. With Dr. 
Palfrey in 1836 it became more distinctly a literary and 
historical publication, and almost entirely relinquished its 
political character. Before he gave up the reins to Pro- 
fessor Francis Bowen, the charger had become a steady- 
going hack, and almost all the important early contribu- 
tors had passed beyond these voices. During the re- 
spectable and apathetic administration of these two, you 
would never have guessed, says the retrospect, that the 
most active minds in New England were in a state of 


social and spiritual ferment. The grandfather's clock 
was ticking drowsily when Dr. Peabody entered the sanc- 
tum in 1853 and gave it a mild jolt. In his ten years he 
succeeded in coaxing the magazine out of the Harvard 
cloisters but did not venture to drive it as far as Main 
Street. In i860 Lowell and Charles Eliot Norton laid 
reluctant hands upon it and jogged it more decidedly, but 
nevertheless with filial moderation. Lowell had written 
in 1848, " Bo wen seems to regard me as the wit of his 
Review, and I must keep up my character if I die for it." 
This was about his article on Browning, for which, he 
said, " I shall get twenty odd dollars on All-Fools-Day.'' 
Longfellow noted that new life had been infused into the 
North American with the very first number under the new 
editors; and every wTiter noted that the magazine had 
departed from at least one of its cherished traditions, and 
was willing to pay more than one dollar a page. Norton 
purposed, gently but firmly, to achieve innovations. 
** There is opportunity now," he wrote to a friend, " to 
make the North American one of the means of develop- 
ing the nation, of stimulating its better sense, of setting 
before it and holding up to it its own ideal — at least of 
securing expression for its clearest thought and most ac- 
curate scholarship." 

Scudder in summing up Lowell's connection with the 
magazine writes: 

It had for fifty years been the leading representative in 
America of dignified scholarship and literature. At times it 
had been spirited and aggressive, but for the most part it had 
stood for rather elegant leisure and a somewhat remote criti- 
cism. The publishers, hoping to reinstate it in authority, ap- 
plied in 1863 to Lowell to take charge of it. He consented 
with Norton as his assistant. " You have heard," wrote he to 
Motley, " that Norton and I have undertaken to edit the North 
American — a rather Sisyphian job, you will say. It wanted 
three chief elements to make it successful. It wasn't thor- 
oughly, that is, thickly and thinly loyal; it wasn't lively; and 
it had no particular opinions on any particular subject. It was 
an eminently safe periodical and accordingly was in great dan- 
ger of running aground. It was an easy matter, of course, to 



make it loyal — even to give it opinions (such as they were) 
but to make it alive is more difficult. Perhaps the day of the 
quarterlies is gone by, and those megatheria of letters may be 
in the mere course of nature withdrawing to their last swamps 
to die in peace. Anyhow, here we are with our megatherian 
on our hands, and we must strive to find out what will fill his 
huge belly, and keep him alive a little longer." 

Yet though its new editors attempted to widen the 
horizon of the magazine, and invited representative men 
from all over the country to write for it and even extended 
the invitation across the Atlantic, it still remained a some- 
what local product. " In Cambridge where I went from 
Venice to live after a brief sojourn in New York," says 
Mr. Howells, " one was, as it were, domesticated with 
the North American, for both the editors lived there, and 
one was orally asked to do this paper or that. And by 
and by when both Norton and Lowell went abroad, the 
editorship began to fluctuate from one scholarly Cam- 
bridge intelligence to another." And in spite of innova- 
tions, it did not dream of bundling away its early nine- 
teenth century ideal of the Edinburgh. When Longfel- 
low looked over Cushing's Index to the North American, 
he said, " It is like walking through a graveyard and 
reading the inscriptions on the graves. So many familiar 
names, so many old associations ! " And Mr. Howells 
says that it " fondly realised its descent from the supreme 
English quarterlies. It emulated the look of these in size 
and shape, and if it had not the stiff covers, half of the 
thickness of pasteboard, which enabled them to hold them- 
selves upright on a shelf, the grey of its outside was of a 
scholarly quiet, which richly satisfied." Scholarly and 
dignified quiet was, however, ceasing to be the ideal else- 
where in America. Even religious periodicals had long 
since yielded to the literary demands of a democratic and 
busy age for brevity and briskness. " The North Ameri- 
can/' said Dr. H. M. Field, " was like the English quarter- 
lies which it copied, very respectable and very dull." And 
spruce young worldly journals like the Round Table wQvt 


even more caustic. Having little space at its disposal, 
this paper naturally deemed brevity the soul of wit. It 
said in 1869 : 

We believe the quarterlies could be made more popular with- 
out losing a wit in dignity and character. At least two of the 
English quarterlies are now as eagerly looked for in cultivated 
circles as is the last number of the Ledger by fascinated scul- 
lions. The stupid Puritan fallacy that writing to be respecta- 
ble must needs be dull has always affected most literary work 
in this country, and the quarterlies have perhaps borne heavier 
marks of it than other publications. Dreary essayists who 
could not get a hearing in other countries have in the much 
enduring columns of the quarterlies had their exceeding great 
reward in being called scholarly and profound by nodding scio- 
lists whose cue it is to pretend to like being bored. Our quar- 
terlies are almost the synonyms for dulness and provincial 
torpidity. The North American, admirable as have been some 
of their numbers in point of solidity, instructiveness and per- 
manent value, has suffered in this particular. If it can but 
gather together a staff of writers who not only know things 
but know how to say them, it may have a future of national 
credit and importance. 

Lowell himself seemed to feel how impossible it was 
for mortal man to live up to the Boston tradition and its 
palladium. In 1867 he wrote whimsically to Godkin: 
" 'Tis the curse of an editor that he must be always right. 
Ah, when I am once out of the North American Review, 
won't I kick up my heels and be as ignorant as I please ! 
But beware of omniscience. There is death in that pot, 
however it be with others." He had said it. The Boston 
Tradition and its chief embodiment was dying of its own 
omniscience. Until both consented not to know it all, 
the mechanics of life might still be present but animation 
was lacking. And that day was yet distant. But here, 
for the present, must we leave the sempiternal North 
American and turn to transitory things. They will come 
and pass and must be dealt with in their own place, but it 
will go on for all chapters. 

" Conscious of inability, we dare not say that the 
flowers of the Polyanthos shall be all indigenous," ran 



the announcement in 1806 of this small and chubby maga- 
zine of seventy-two pages, which might well have bor- 
rowed from New York of just a decade before the title of 
The Lady and Gentleman's Pocket Magazine of Literary 
and Polite Amusement. It paid much attention to the 
drama and the local theatre, and reviewed also the New 
York and Philadelphia companies. It is curious and in- 
structive to note how eagerly the magazines seized upon 
the infant theatre as a topic likely to widen their appeal. 
At the beginning of the century President D wight had 
written in Travels in New England : " When the first 
proposal was made to establish a theatre in this town, a 
considerable number of the inhabitants eagerly engaged 
in forwarding the design. Accordingly, a theatre was 
built, and soon after that another. There is reason to 
believe that the stage is now regarded with very general 
indifference. One of the theatres has already been taken 
down, and the other, it is said, is far from being crowded." 
The same year that saw the Polyanthos bud marked the 
introduction of the Emerald, which — Containing 
Sketches of the Manners, Morals, Amusements of the 
Age — flashed its corrective comment on the stage also. 
" The drama has become a public amusement of prime im- 
portance and there can be no doubt that much advantage 
will accrue from checking its absurdity and rewarding 
its merit." Thus, though President Dwight was doubt- 
less stating a fact, doubtless also the wish was father to 
the deduction that the pulling down of the second theatre 
indicated that public interest in the stage was waning. 
Rather was it an illustration of the perennial habit which 
the theatre shares with the magazine of multiplying faster 
than the audience. The Cabinet in 181 1 was at times al- 
most a theatrical magazine, and showed that the exploita- 
tion of the theatre as a business had increased as well as 
the public interest. It devoted much space to George 
Frederic Cooke, who had just arrived after sixteen nights 
in New York, and took the occasion of some sharp prac- 
tice in the matter of tickets to scold the Boston theatre 



roundly. " The company is miserably deficient, the 
orchestra intolerable; the foreground of the stage is 
hardly illuminated sufficiently to discern the face of a per- 
former the distance of four boxes from the scene, the 
smoke that arises from the most execrable oil makes 
matters worse and * dims the ineffectual fire ' of the side 
lights. The coldness of the house renders it dangerous 
for ladies to venture thither at all, much more to appear 
there dressed with taste, elegance and fashion. Nor are 
the boxes fit for their reception, being neither washed nor 
properly swept. The management, taking advantage of 
the anxiety to see Mr. Cooke, forced the public to pur- 
chase at an advanced price a ticket for a night he would 
not perform if they would get places for the nights he 
did." All the papers seemed to feel from the very start 
of their theatrical comment that correcting the players 
was a very ticklish matter ; though it appears to have been 
genuinely appreciated that criticism of acting — even 
when the general level of criticism of all kinds was vitu- 
perative and personal — had fallen to disgraceful depths. 
There was also some wholesome fear that the truculent 
tribe would make a scene. Theatrical criticism, wrote 
J. F. Buckingham, always called down curses on the head 
of the author. In his magazine, the Ordeal, 1809, he 
tried to lift the business into a higher zone. " The con- 
ductors of the Theatrical Department will direct their 
remarks to the apparent taste of the public and the merit 
of the compositions rather than the defects of men 
and women, whose secondary intellect and capricious- 
ness of passion would reduce the dignity of criticism 
to the clamorous ebullition of frivolous garrulity." This 
booming sentence was but the conventional editorial man- 
ner, for in his Memoirs he wrote quite humanly of his 
theatrical criticisms in the Polyanthos: " They are all 
my own. Some of them are severe, but I am not aware 
that any of them are unjust. Mr. Poe, the father of the 
late E. A. Poe, took offence at a remark on his wife's 
acting and called at my house to ' chastise my imper- 


tinence/ but went away without effecting his purpose." 
Several times during his long and varied career, he notes 
similar calls and announces, perhaps with pardonable 
pride, similar results. In spite of several fracases with 
both lawyers and actors, he went unlicked to a good 
citizen's grave. 

The announcement of the Ordeal is interesting. 

At a time when the crisis in our public affairs is so alarming 
as to threaten the very existence of the nation, it may well be 
enquired of the editors what result they can expect but failure. 
But the paramount necessity of securing our civil and political 
existence should unite all honest men in an ardent effort to 
exhibit to the view of the people the deformities which disgrace 
the present administration of government, by tearing away the 
curtain of hypocrisy under which they have long been con- 
cealed. The strong connection which subsists in all good gov- 
ernments between politics, religion, and literature inculcates the 
necessity of a like exposure of their absurdities. The office of 
the satirist, though ungrateful, is necessary; and satire will be 
one of the engines which the editors of this publication will 
employ to further their general design. Articles of serious dis- 
cussion or general information shall have a general or implied 
local application. The department of Poetry in every literary 
journal in the United States has always been meagre of original 
stamina or support, particularly in respect to satirical effusions. 
As we shall have in view the censure of the ridiculous, as well 
as the approbation of the dignified, we shall frequently have 
recourse to foreign storehouses for weapons to overthrow the 
adversaries of good sense. We call on our poetical friends to 
help us scourge the absurd taste which prevails in the poetry 
of the times. None will be considered as subscribers but such 
as pay for one volume at the time of subscribing. 

Here is a condensation of Buckingham's simple account 
of his splendid work for the city of Boston: 

My first attempt to amuse, instruct and edify the public was 
the Polyanthos. The ungrateful or undiscerning public — not- 
withstanding my expressed flattery of their taste and confidence 
in their liberality — suffered it to wither and die at the end of 
twenty months. Yet the attempt ought to have succeeded. The 
engravings were not quite equal to those we meet now in maga- 
zines [1852], but they were the best that could be obtained. 
The portraits were accompanied with biographical notices. 


The difficulty of obtaining either was discouraging, but I should 
have persevered if the subscription had been sufficient to pay 
the cost, without regarding my own labour. The suspension 
of the Polyanthos was a relief to my labour and an advantage 
to my pocket; for the publication produced not enough to pay 
the actual cost of paper, printing and engraving. Considering 
that it was the first attempt in Boston (if not in the United 
States) to publish a magazine with a regular series of portraits, 
I do not feel that there is reason to be ashamed of my labour 

— there have been many reasons to regret that I was foolish 
and improvident enough to make the experiment. In 181 2 the 
publication was resumed and two volumes issued of the original 
size and form. These were succeeded by four volumes, octavo, 
the contents of similar character. The biography and theat- 
rical criticism were still for the most part, and unless when 
otherwise acknowledged, my own. The Ordeal I began in 
1809. The matter was chiefly political. The whole amount of 
subscriptions fell short of the expense, and it was discontinued 
at the end of six months. 

I ventured in 181 7 to issue a prospectus of the New England 
Galaxy and Masonic Magazine. Freemasonry was then in its 
palmy days, and this was the first periodical masonic paper. 
Notwithstanding the confident tone of my prospectus and salu- 
tatory address, it was not without doubt and misgivings that I 
proceeded in my undertaking. A wife and six children had no 
other resource than my labour; and all apparatus was to be got 
(if got at all) on credit, and of that I had none. Mrs. Susanna 
Rowson was a highly valued correspondent. I am myself ac- 
countable for all the trash " From the Shop of Pertinax Period 
and Co.," and every original article, the authorship of which 
is not acknowledged or indicated by a signature, was of my own 
manufacture. The Galaxy, as may be inferred from my ad- 
dress to its readers on the commencement of the second year, 
had not met with entire approbation. As the circulation in- 
creased, endeavours to stir up resentment against its freedom 
of remark were multiplied. Criticisms on the operations of the 
missionary societies, certain practices of the banks and brokers, 
public lecturers and itinerant preachers and instructors, and the 
proceedings of political caucuses received admonitory and 
threatening letters, mostly anonymous. In its fourth year the 
title Masonic Magasine was dropped, as it had proved one ob- 
stacle in the way of its general circulation, but the interests of 
the institution were still watched with fidelity. Our success 
was becoming substantial, when in 1822 a prosecution for libel 

— an occurrence which was to happen again four times, but 
from which I suffered only anxiety and vexation and some loss 


of money — led to a modification of the common law of libel. 
Custom once imperiously, even tyrannically, imposed on editors 
an annual tax in the shape of a New Year's address. The task 
was always irksome from the difficulty of guiding thought to 
a new channel and of giving to an old and hackneyed sentiment 
new forms of expression. In 1828 I sold the Galaxy to Willard 
Phillips and Theophilus Parsons, having conducted it over 
eleven years, in order to devote my entire attention to the 
Boston Daily Courier. 

The New England Magazine is Buckingham's finest 
monument in the magazine line. It was a publication 
admirable for its day, and containing for ours not only 
a wealth of indispensable historical material but a sur- 
prising amount of good literature. Articles were at first 
unsigned or signed only with initials. As time went on, 
some full names appeared ; but the practice does not seem 
to have justified itself in the editor's mind. Buckingham 
began the magazine on account of his son, Edward. This 
young man immediately made sure of the support of 
several of the popular writers of the day, Edward Everett, 
Hildreth, Hilliard, Hannah Gould, Frothingham. But 
the persons who will now attract most attention — says 
George Willis Cooke in the second New England Maga- 
zine, which went to join its elder brother many years 
after — were then known but little or not at all. These 
were Longfellow, Whittier, Hawthorne, and Holmes. 
Two papers of the Autocrat appeared here, and the re- 
sumption of them in the Atlantic several decades later 
showed only a maturer mellowing of the same method. 
" The circulation has increased monthly," ran the an- 
nouncement of the second volume, " though it is yet far 
from being a source of pecuniary profit. It was intended 
to embellish the magazine with a series of portraits, and 
this intention it has been impossible to fulfil. There is 
some difficulty in procuring original likenesses, and more 
in obtaining correct copies of originals. The fastidious- 
ness of individuals in two or three instances has frus- 
trated our design, but with all these discouragements the 
design will not be abandoned." The year saw the realisa- 


tion of that hope, but the next year marked the extinction 
of another. In July, 1833, Edward Buckingham died. 
An editorial announcement paid him a dignified and 
touching tribute, and there was also a memorial poem. 
This is a striking instance of the real bonds which existed 
between the editors and the subscribers of the early maga- 
zines. " The New England Magazine was the offspring 
and the property of Edward Buckingham. In projecting 
the work, the idea of making money was no part of the 
consideration. The elder of the editors had previously 
had sufficient experience to enable him to feel how uncer- 
tain and delusive are all calculations of that sort. The 
other needed a chance for improvement in the pleasanter 
departments of literature. He for whom the magazine 
was created and by whom it existed is no more. The 
surviving editor feels that he cannot desert it now.'* 

When he retired from the management, said Park 
Benjamin, the papers became less general and didactic, 
with the result of an increase in circulation. The new 
editors were Dr. S. G. Howe and D. O. Sargent, both 
of whom had been writing for its columns. Finally, at 
the request of the proprietors, Park Benjamin, who had 
been a constant contributor, became sole editor. The 
Nezv England is the first magazine we have had occasion 
to chronicle which from the beginning paid its writers. 
At the end of its first year under the new management, 
it said to its contributors : " The remuneration which we 
have been able to extend is not, we are deeply conscious, 
commensurate with your deserts; but the terms of one 
dollar by the page of prose and double the sum for poetry, 
is all that the magazine can afford ; and though lamentable 
the confession, we must own that even with these rates 
not one solitary penny is left to reward the editorial 
labour at the close of the year. With the extension of 
our subscription list, your compensation shall be increased 
to two — yes, three dollars a page; and even then we 
could wish it were more. We will look for our own 
reward in the consciousness of having done something 


to encourage American literature/* It is to be hoped that 
Dr. Howe still continued to pay himself for his articles, 
otherwise he would positively have lost money by assum- 
ing the editorial chair. All honour to the New England! 
In this, as in every other aspect of its professional activity, 
it set from the start a high standard. It is one of the few 
magazines in the long list whose untimely death may at 
this distance be genuinely regretted. 

It was not long before Park Benjamin issued his vale- 
dictory. Although there were to be some years of fluctu- 
ation in the traffic, he may be called the first in the 
procession of editors and magazines heading toward 
New York. 

It could not be expected that a journal affording very limited 
means of compensation to authors could attain a very high 
standard of excellence. [Note that no sooner had the practice 
begun than those rapacious writers started to bargain at once ! 
Ten years before they had been glad to write for the good of 
the country and their own reputation.] It has presented from 
month to month the best papers from writers who were gen- 
erously content with a very inadequate remuneration. Authors 
of celebrity, whose books are sure of a popular reward, are 
vainly solicited to waste their efforts in the pages of a monthly 
magazine. Could the American publishers afford, like the Eng- 
lish, to pay handsomely for articles, we should soon see our 
journals assuming a different character and vying successfully 
with the best transatlantic productions. As the case stands, it 
is unfair to make comparisons between the light literature of 
Great Britain and the United States. There are few educated 
men in this country who can yield themselves to the pursuits of 
literature and the liberal studies. With the exception of those 
whom fortune has placed beyond the necessity of exertion, there 
are no authors by profession. When a poor man has attempted 
to live by scholarship, he has been compelled to seek a resource 
as instructor or lecturer or some such mind-wearying employ- 
ment. I believe, however, that we shall soon see better days. 
The worth of literary labour is beginning to be appreciated. 
The magazine will hereafter be conducted under better aus- 
pices. It will be united with another work of a similar kind in 
New York, and be styled in future the American Monthly 

This proved to be, it is true, but one of the long, long 


thoughts of a young man; yet, O Boston, Boston, how 
often in the years to come wert thou to hear from high 
places that westward the course of empire was taking its 
way! Now, however, all unconscious of the worst blow 
fate had in store for her — when the North American, 
cradled in her bosom, was to prove sharper than a ser- 
pent's tooth — she had set about, undeafened by the com- 
mercial clamours of New York and Philadelphia, the 
making of the Boston tradition. 

Dr. Hale says the people of Boston took an interest in 
what we should now call idealistic or sentimental enter- 
prises, such as was not paralleled in what he knew of 
other cities. In Boston, by a sort of natural law, the 
prophets of new beliefs and new superstitions made ren- 
dezvous. This local ferment, eager expectation, and 
readiness for new things did not characterise Boston at 
the beginning of the new century, and certainly, he adds, 
does not characterise it to-day. 

A picturesque place where one who was wise enough might 
watch some of its currents, was the modest book-shop kept in 
a private house by Miss Elizabeth Peabody. Somehow or other 
she and her sisters — afterward Mrs. Horace Mann and Mrs. 
Nathaniel Hawthorne — opened a " foreign circulating library " 
in what was the front parlour. I am afraid that the subscrip- 
tion to the library and the sales of books did not amount to 
much. But what happened was this: If you had a vacant ten 
minutes you went in there, for it was just in the middle of the 
Boston of that time. Who was there that you did not meet 
who was wide-awake and interested in the future? Perhaps 
somebody told you that Margaret Fuller's conversation of that 
week would be on the myth of Juno or the myth of Ceres, and 
wouldn't you like to come round on Thursday evening? Or 
somebody said that thus-and-so would be going on in prepara- 
tion for Brook Farm. If you had that ten minutes and looked 
in at 12 West Street, you were made sure, if you had not known 
it before, that this world had a future and that very probably 
it was true that the kingdom of God was at hand. I think the 
Brook Farm people all made their regular headquarters at the 
Foreign Circulating Library. I am afraid that the helter- 
skelter in which everybody availed himself of its hospitalities 
did not promote its pecuniary success. 


This last sentence might have been written of the Dial, 
the publication which this eager idealistic band projected 
as the fountain-light of all their day. At no time in its 
four years did its subscription list reach three hundred 
names. Even the open-handed Miss Peabody, who was 
quite inured to such behaviour from the Boston intel- 
lectuals, complained at its being systematically loaned 
from house to house. Mr. F. B. Sanborn says it died of 
starvation, chiefly because it was ahead of the times ; but, 
as Miss Peabody testified that it could have paid expenses 
with five hundred subscribers, it died evidently of the 
thrift of its admirers. 

Mr. George Willis Cooke in the Journal of Speculative 
Philosophy has written the most complete account of it. 
As early as 1835, he says, Emerson wrote of an " organ 
of a spiritual philosophy " which was to have been called 
the Transcendentalist, or the Spiritual Inquirer. He 
suggested to Carlyle, whom all his American enthusiasts 
were urging to settle in America, that he take the editor- 
ship. " We have some confidence," wrote Emerson (not 
remembering what plain livers were Boston's highest 
thinkers), "that it could be made to secure him a sup- 
port." Out of the discussion over the proposed periodical 
grew several meetings of what came to be known as the 
Transcendentalist Club, a dozen people who desired a 
more spiritual interpretation of religion. The talk was 
large and leisurely and did not grow definite until 1839. 
Margaret Fuller was selected for editor, and the first issue 
was set for April, 1840. But only thirty subscribers had 
appeared by June. Nevertheless, in July the Dial essayed 
the outer air. The announcement ran : 

We invite the attention of our countrymen to a new design. 
With some reluctance the present editors of this work have 
yielded themselves to the wishes of their friends, finding some- 
thing sacred and not to be withstood in the importunity which 
urged the production of a Journal in a new spirit. Many sin- 
cere persons in New England reprobate that rigour of our 
conventions of religion and education which is turning us to 
Stone, which renounces hope, which looks only backward, which 


asks only such a future as the past, which suspects improve- 
ment and holds nothing so much in horror as new views and 
the dreams of youth. No one can converse much with different 
classes of society in New England without remarking the 
progress of a revolution. It is in every form a protest against 
usage and a search for principles. If our Journal share the 
impulse of the time, it cannot now prescribe its own course. 
It cannot foretell in orderly propositions what it shall attempt. 
Let it be one cheerful, rational voice amid the din of mourners 
and polemics. 

The editors for the first two years were Ripley and 
Margaret Fuller. For her it was the principal event in 
that literary career of hers which somehow did not come 
off. Charles Taber Congdon thought, like every one else, 
that she considered her own opinion conclusive and a little 
resented any attempt to change it; and that she swayed 
all around her by sheer force of her royal intellect. She 
had physical peculiarities which were not pleasant, and 
even Emerson confessed that she repelled him upon first 
acquaintance. Later, Greeley wrote that he could never 
agree with his guest about diet or about tea, of which she 
drank great draughts. But arrogant and opinionated as 
Margaret was, she wrote Emerson on her withdrawal that 
his purpose would be to represent his own tastes and make 
a good periodical, while hers had rather been to let all 
kinds of people have freedom to say their say for better 
or for worse. And she proved right ; for Emerson paid 
far more attention to merely good writing, and for the 
rest gave a voice only to those reforms he personally 
sympathised with. The first number, says Cooke, rather 
disappointed them all: Alcott wrote in his sententious 
way, " It measures not the meridian but the morning 
ray — the nations wait for the gnomon that shall mark 
the broad noon." And later he wrote, " A fit organ for 
such as myself is not yet, but is to be.*' Emerson con- 
tented himself with writing to Carlyle : " It is not much 
but it is better than anything we had." The intention 
had been to pay Margaret two hundred dollars for the 
editing, but the money did not materialise. As time went 


on she found that her health would not bear the strain 
of teaching and editing at the same time; and she saw 
that it was in vain to hope any longer for a maintenance 
from the paper, so that she might devote herself to her 
pen. During the second year, too, the publishers failed ; 
and it was only with difficulty that the editors secured 
the small subscription list. Miss Peabody then under- 
took the publishing, and even wrapped the numbers for 
mailing. She wrote Emerson that she would first pay 
the printer and then Margaret Fuller, — if after the latter 
had received three hundred a year there was any left, she 
would take the usual commission. But she succeeded, 
says Cooke, no better than " that rascally firm who were 
her predecessors." 

Emerson recorded in his diary : *' I must settle the 
question, it seems, of its life or death. I wish it to live, 
but I do not wish to be its life, neither do I like to put 
it in the hands of the Humanity and Reform men, be- 
cause they trample on letters and poetry; nor in the 
hands of scholars, for they are dead and dry." Later he 
wrote Carlyle : " I had not the cruelty to kill it, and so 
must answer with my own proper care and nursing for its 
life. Perhaps it is a great folly in me, who have little 
adroitness in turning out work. Lately at New York, I 
found it to be to a certain class of men and women an 
object of tenderness and religion." And yet it could not 
muster its five hundred subscribers ! So all the thrift was 
not Bostonian — perhaps this coterie had a neighbourhood 
copy also. At the beginning of its third year, when 
Emerson took charge, its subscribers numbered only two 
hundred and twenty. Emerson's early publisher, James 
Munroe, offered a better business management than it 
had hitherto received and smaller expenses by reason of 
its connection with his own firm ; but as a year's experi- 
ence demonstrated that the expenses were greater and 
that the commission for his management would have been 
large enough even if they had been decreased, Emerson 


managed it himself for two years. It seems to have cost 
him some hundreds of dollars. 

Emerson as editor was much concerned not only with 
good literature, but with liveliness and variety. " W. E. 
Channing's Letters are very agreeable reading," he wrote 
to Thoreau, " and their wisdom lightened by a vivacity 
very rare in the Dial. I have a valuable manuscript — 
a sea-voyage — from a new hand, which is all clear, good 
sense, and I may make some of Lane's graver sheets give 
way for this honest story." Thoreau wrote to Emerson : 
" I think this is a noble number. It perspires thought and 
feeling. I can speak of it now a little like a foreigner 
[he had assisted Emerson in editing the paper in 1843] ; 
and to me it is a long letter of encouragement and reproof, 
and no doubt it is so to many another in the land. So 
don't give up the ship." To such as accepted it at all, 
says Cooke, Transcendentalism came as a gospel; and 
the periodical was its voice. Emerson wrote Thoreau in 
1843 : " The New Englander from New Haven angrily 
affirms that the Did is not as good as the Bible. By all 
these signs we infer that we make some figure in the 
literary world though we are not as yet encouraged by a 
swollen subscription list." In April, 1844, George Wil- 
liam Curtis wrote to Dwight ; " The Dial stops. Is 
it not like the going out of a star? Its place was so 
unique in our literature! All who wrote and sang for 
it were clothed in white garments ; and the work itself so 
calm and collected, though springing from the same undis- 
mayed hope which furthers all our best reforms. But the 
intellectual worth of the times will be told in other ways, 
though the Dial no longer reports the progress of the day." 

Curtis had appeared there for the first time ; and so had 
Thoreau, Dwight, Cranch, and Dana. For all its writers 
it had been almost the first means of self-expression, 
whether like Emerson and Alcott they had appeared be- 
fore or not. The fervour of the writers, their air of 
having something to say which outsiders could not appre- 
ciate, their unconcern for facts and literary laws — all 


these things, says Cooke, made it an object of ridicule 
to those not in sympathy; and even to those who were, 
for Cranch and James Freeman Clarke in Louisville 
caricatured the extravagance and naivete of the Orphic 
Sayings of Alcott, which were often as profound as 
they were absurd. " How surprised would some of these 
writers be," says Frothingham's Transcendentalism in 
New England, " if they should now in their prosaic days 
read what they wrote under the spell of that fine frenzy ! " 
Much of his best writing in prose and verse Emerson 
contributed to its pages ; and almost all its staff afterward 
won distinction and a few fame seemingly permanent. 
But in spite of their one hundred and thirty-six pages, 
Carlyle thought the numbers had too little body; and 
Brownson owned in the Boston Quarterly, while praising 
it highly, that it lacked manliness ; and the Philistine press 
called it a chaos of obscurity and nonsense, while the 
religious press scented atheism. Perhaps Furness said 
the best thing about it when he wrote to Emerson in 
1852 : "I am attracted and repelled by all this talk and 
speculation about things unseen and unseeable. How 
continually does it degenerate into a wisdom of words, 
and how hard it is to keep humble and self -forgetting. 
It is a favourite idea of mine that the all-ministering 
Providence gives us these speculations and theology and 
religious forms, etc., etc., to occupy us and divert our 
attention from the work going on within us, which our 
self-conceit, if it meddles with it, is sure to spoil; just 
as we rattle a bunch of keys before a baby when it is 
being vaccinated." 

Certainly, the Dial moved a large number of rare-fibred 
spirits to express themselves in intangible words, and per- 
haps one should be as philosophical about Transcendenta- 
lism as David Harum was about fleas — a certain amount 
is good for a dog, to keep him from brooding on the fact 
that he is a dog. There is no knowing how much of his 
fine mechanism Emerson would have meddled with other- 



Boston and even Boston periodicals, however, were 
engaged in other things beside increasing her air-chambers 
for the production of a stentorian voice. Most Boston- 
ians were employed in the more profitable business of 
making their living, and among its limited number of 
readers most were more concerned with enlivening their 
own existence than with what immortal thoughts they 
might bequeath to posterity. 

Boston and New England, which later admitted her 
to be the centre she already considered herself, had 
achieved about twenty-six magazines in the eighteenth 
century, besides some so-called magazines which were in 
reality only newspapers. Of the magazines, three went 
down (if indeed they ever set sail beyond the prospectus) 
without leaving so much as a ripple; of those with a 
known voyage, thirteen hailed from Boston, one each 
from Worcester, New Haven, Concord, N. H., Benning- 
ton, Rutland, Fairhaven, Vt., and two from Hartford. 
Three were going at once in 1743, '86, '95, '96; two at 
once in 1744, '87, '89, '92, '93, '94, and 1800. Both 
Hartford and New Haven had confident expectations of 
becoming hubs themselves. It is perhaps unlikely that 
the other small towns had such glorified visions. But 
in those days of uncertain and impeded communication, 
they saw no reason why they should transport by stage- 
coach all of their divine draught from the fountain-head. 
Why not be their own Rebeccas and dip from their native 
well? "A number of gentlemen" of Middlebury, Ver- 
mont, published 181 2-18 17, a Literary and Philosophical 
Repertory. Doubtless, too, it was not to home-grown 



vigour alone that we owe some of these magazines. Some 
of their editors must have pioneered from Boston, bearing 
their precious ointment along with their household goods. 
Although he had little goods besides his youthful hose 
well-saved, such a man was Joseph Dennie. He helped 
to found at Walpole, New Hampshire, the Farmer's 
Museum, a magazine which soon became so popular that 
the little town had to provide it with a mail bag all to 
itself, to start it on its lengthy journey as far as Nova 
Scotia one way and Georgia the other. Dennie, born 
in 1768, had left Boston because the law could not sup- 
port him. *' There we behold a shoal of junior lawyers 
keeping vacant offices,'* said he, " mere barber-shops 
for chat which are never darkened by the shadow of 
clients, — who must seek a precarious support from the 
gaming table or else in mere desperation marry some girl 
of fortune and be carried home by her to a father's house. 
By accurate calculation I can live here one-third cheaper 
than in any part of Massachusetts, and men of learning 
in these wilds are rare. I cannot be respected in Boston 
or its environs while I am poor and while that poverty 
obliges me to wear a threadbare coat. Much stress is 
laid there on externals, and unless the guinea is expended 
at the tavern, unless the glossy vest is worn, characters 
however amiable and knowing are sedulously shunned." 
Nevertheless, he found that even in New Hampshire the 
farmers lived more peacably than he could wish or settled 
their own disputes. He drifted into the church, which 
had been enchanted with his city accents and asked him 
to read the service and a sermon for them on Sunday, 
pledging him eighty pounds a year and to increase his 
salary for ten years until it was doubled. But, thus 
deflected for a moment, he was still intent on his early 
ambition to practise and to write. " The revenues of the 
Church in these infant Republics," he wrote, " are too 
scanty to allure from an avowedly lucrative profession " 
— which was quibbling, of course, not scribbHng — "a 
young man whose ambition is daring." But while he 


was elocutionising on Sunday to the delighted rustics, he 
was gaining some literary reputation also ; and at last he 
collected his week-day diversions together and went to 
Boston to see if he could dispose of them. There he 
donned at once the glossy vest from which he had been 
divorced over long for a youngster of his elegant tastes, 
and immediately demonstrated that he had rightly guessed 
the passport to Boston society. 

A publisher, crafty in other ways it turned out, seeing 
him the feasted darling of fashion, lured him to remain 
and start a magazine on half profits. It was represented 
that his share would be one hundred and fifty pounds a 
year. The magazine was the Tablet (1795), a miscel- 
laneous paper devoted to Belles Lettres, three dollars per 
annum. " The favourite child," said Dennie, " after buf- 
feting the billows of adverse fortune for thirteen short 
weeks, sickened and died. If I had been in possession of 
property, neither the waywardness of. the times nor the 
dulness of the Bostonians would have repulsed the growth 
of my miscellany" — a sentence which might have been 
passed by Spectator itself. But the child had lived long 
enough to father the man, and he determined that litera- 
ture should be his calling. Once more casting aside his 
brocaded vest, he set out for vestless parts. " In Walpole 
there was a press conducted by a young man, and I was 
determined to convince him that my pen could be useful. 
Without saying a syllable respecting a stipend, I gave him 
an essay on Wine and New Wine and called it the Lay 
Preacher. It had been objected to my earliest composi- 
tions that they were sprightly rather than moral. Ac- 
cordingly, I thought I would exhibit truths in a plain dress 
to the common people." The Farmer's Weekly Museum 
was the paper, and he soon became such a successful editor 
of it that to its title was added the Lay Preacher's Gazette. 
So much attention did he attract to it that it was enabled 
to publish more original literary compositions than any 
magazine in the United States, and indeed was, in the 
number of them, not equalled for a great many years to 


come. The publisher of Walpole proved more able to 
keep his word than the publisher of Boston, and paid him 
the extraordinary sum (in cold cash) of one hundred 
and ten pounds a year. This, combined with the ninety 
pounds which he picked up practising law, permitted him 
to don the glossy waistcoat again, before the ravished eyes 
of the Walpole farmers, who were as much charmed with 
his sartorial graces as had been the Charlestonian rustics 
with his elocution. It is sad to note, however, that he 
flowered seemingly at the expense of his root, for the 
publisher in a year or so went bankrupt. Isaiah Thomas 
bought the paper and retained Dennie as editor on the 
somewhat curtailed wardrobe of four hundred dollars 
a year. The paper is an excellent specimen of the tedious 
rhetorical juggling which was once the ideal of our early 
magazines of a certain type and which is now considered 
futile by all save college pegasuses stretching their wings. 
Pieces of " chaste humour " and " the choicest efforts 
of the American Muse," and a department Colon and 
Spondee were equally characteristic with the essays of 
the Lay Preacher. They made up the greatest bid for 
literary fame ever put forward by any New Hampshire 
village; and while Dennie remained there, Philadelphia 
and New York and Baltimore came knocking at its door, 
all applicants for the brilliant editor who was hiding the 
bushel under his candle. 

Boston had been for a quarter of a century relaxing 
its ascetic ideas, as became a growing port. Jean Pierre 
Brissot in 1788, had been somewhat surprised not to find 
it so triste as he had expected, and as for progressiveness 
it compared very favourably with cities at home. " You 
no longer meet here that Presbyterian austerity which 
interdicted all pleasures, even that of walking. Music, 
which their teachers formerly prescribed as a diabolic 
art, begins to make part of their education ; in some houses 
you hear the piano-forte. They publish a magazine here, 
though the number of gazettes is very considerable. The 
multiplicity of gazettes proves the activity of commerce 


and the taste for politics and news. Yet commerce occu- 
pies all their ideas and absorbs all their speculations. 
Thus you find few estimable works and few authors. 
The expense of the first volume of the Memoirs of the 
Academy of this town is not yet recovered; it is two 
years since it appeared. You may judge that the arts, 
except those that respect navigation, do not receive much 
encouragement here. Let us not blame the Bostonians; 
they think of the useful before procuring to themselves 
the agreeable. Their streets are well illuminated at 
night; while many ancient cities of Europe containing 
proud monuments of art have never thought of preventing 
the fatal effects of nocturnal darkness." 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, President 
Dwight pronounced, in his unimpetuous accents, that 
Boston was in many ways a superior town. " This is 
the only large town within my knowledge in which schools 
have been formed into a system. The number of private 
schools is great. The literary societies are the American 
Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Antiquarian 
Society, Massachusetts Historical, Boston Literary Soci- 
ety, Massachusetts Agricultural, Boston Athenaeum. The 
Boston Style is a phrase proverbially used throughout a 
considerable part of this country to denote a florid, pom- 
pous manner of writing, and has been thought by persons 
at a distance to be the predominant Style of this region. 
It cannot be denied that several publications written in 
this manner have issued from the press here, and for a 
time been much celebrated. Still it has never been true 
that this mode of writing was either general in this town 
or adopted by men of superior talents. The people in 
this town are distinguished by their attachment to litera- 
ture. Their pecuniary contributions to this object have 
exceeded those of any city in this American Union. 
There are proportionately many more liberally educated 
men here than in New York, and far more than in any 
other town in America." 

Yet Philadelphia loudly pooh-poohed such claims. 


The prospectus of a magazine in 1800 moved a gentleman 
of Philadelphia to utter this withering paragraph. " Lit- 
erary projects have almost always proved abortive in 
Boston. Many attempts have been made to establish 
periodical works in that small town; but miscellaneous 
readers ask in vain for a magazine or a review or a literary 
journal in the capital of New England. The poverty of 
the inhabitants is the probable cause of the deficiency. 
But the hopes of authors like the desires of lovers are 
not easily extinguished ; and a Mr. Hawkins, in the san- 
guine spirit of a projector, adventures to expose himself 
in the cold clemency of a commercial port. He proposes 
the publication of a Monthly Magazine entitled the 
Columbian Phenix, But from the dust and ashes 
of its predecessor this Columbian Soarer will hardly 
arise. The Bostonians will probably prefer as usual, 
the perusal of some of their meagre and time-serving 
newspapers, or rather that informing and witting work 
called an advertisement." 

The spiteful prediction proved true. The Columbian 
Phenix and Boston Review, Forming a Compendium of 
the Present State of Society, lived through one subscrip- 
tion, and the editor did not call upon his personal friends 
for another. These, he said, had been largely responsible 
for the first, and the man of business and the miscel- 
laneous reader whom he had hoped to attract never came. 
Nevertheless, this faraway Mr. Hawkins must have pur- 
sued his even tenor philosophically. He announced that 
he had lived long enough to know that the editor who does 
not promote the ambitions of individuals, flatter their 
pride and avarice or gratify their hate, finds in general 
but scanty support; and experience had shown him that 
a man to derive pecuniary reward from his talents must 
pamper the vices and follies of mankind. But he had — 
whether for publication or otherwise — none of the con- 
tempt for Boston which his brother editor in Philadel- 
phia had, whether professionally or otherwise. The 
reason why works of taste were so little supported in 


America, was not due to poverty or stupidity but to cir- 
cumstances peculiar to a young, growing nation. Yet 
there is a critical period between infancy and manhood 
in nations as well as individuals. ** Whatever we have 
done in agriculture, in commerce, in politics, and in war ; 
in the belles-lettres we have not yet passed this period. 
Literature, well or ill-conducted, is the great engine by 
which all civilised states must ultimately be supported or 

The New England Quarterly (1802) echoed and re- 
inforced this last statement. In a republic ignorance is 
the worst of evils. New England had now stored up a 
great deal of fat and it was high time she began to live 
upon it. " Although the literary periodicals which have 
lately issued from the Boston presses have been from 
various causes discontinued, the editors conceive that the 
inhabitants of New England are willing and able to sup- 
port a magazine. Massachusetts and the neighbouring 
states do not compose the Boeotia of America. What 
has prevented literary publications from receiving merited 
encouragement is not the dulness of the Public but its 
pursuits and habits. Business and Politics have en- 
grossed most of their time; and during an interesting 
European War in which each of the belligerent parties 
have wanted the commercial assistance of our neutral 
and fertile nation and each has had its partisans among 
our citizens, it could not be expected that the silent charms 
of literature would attract the attention of our merchants 
and politicians. The late war in Europe while it has 
drawn our attention from scientific pursuits has brought 
sufficient affluence into our country, to enable it to rise 
to a higher grade in the scale of national literature. But 
is New England to be engaged solely in agriculture and 
commerce ? Are we to resemble Thebans and Dutchmen ? 
Let it not be said that New England which is superior to 
other parts of the United States in other points of com- 
parison, is inferior in the most honourable respect, in 
literature and arts and the sciences/' 


During the three years run of the Boston Weekly 
Magazine begun in 1802, it was honoured, says the vale- 
dictory, " by upwards of fourteen thousand subscribers of 
the most respectable characters in town and in all parts 
of the country." There, the business office appears to 
have been unusually active. The first number was sent 
out to the inhabitants of Boston gratis, with the announce- 
ment that the second would be delivered only to those 
who " have signified a desire to encourage this infant 
establishment " at a subscription price of two dollars per 
annum. As if conscious that already was gathering in 
the town that body of august voices which, practising its 
vocalisation in the Anthology, was finally to trumpet its 
basso prof undo in the North American, it sought while 
there was yet time to cultivate the less resounding chords. 

The magazine's motto was a blithe one, " To Soar aloft 
on fancy's wing, and bathe in Heliconia's Spring; Cull 
every flower with careful hand, and strew them o'er our 
native land." This challenge of the Elysian Fields to 
high Olympus was again flashed by the Emerald in 1806. 
For only two years did this periodical protest the growing 
gravity of the Anthology. It announced itself as Con- 
taining Sketches of the Manners, Morals and Amusements 
of the Age. We think the town, it said, wants to be 
weeded of over-grown absurdity and folly and extrava- 
gance; and like all such culturists from Spectator days 
down, it took care not to weed too unremittingly lest it 
find its occupation gone. One of its editorials in 1807 
is of interest as showing that the making of magazines 
remained for many years the chief artistic activity of 
America. " Architecture is in some little degree ad- 
vanced, but painting scarcely finds an amateur, and sculp- 
ture is almost unknown. Yet it is not correct to attribute 
an entire disregard to literature to the citizens of the 
United States. Though the national literary character 
stands not on the magnitude of individual exertion, it 
points to the community at large for that general good 
sense and correct information which gives respectability 


to all and eminence only to a few. It is in conformity 
with general sentiments that periodical publications, with 
various merits and success, have been numerous in the 
United States." Indeed, but for these the country might 
have been accused of that insensibility to literary appeal 
which editors were always uneasily denying — more in 
the hopeful salutatory, it is true, than in bidding farewell 
to their hardly shepherded flock. " Cold neglect has so 
frequently chilled the aroma of literary ambition," said 
the Cabinet, A Repository of Polite Literature, in 181 1, 
" that you may well ask why is another publication an- 
nounced in Boston.^' This periodical devoted much space 
to the drama, and sought to elevate it into a fashionable 
function, freed from vulgarity. Of the eighteen maga- 
zines listed by Isaiah Thomas in 18 10, seven are of 
Boston, and of these two are religious. The rest with 
the exception of the Anthology and the Bibliotheqiie Por- 
traitive are of a lighter nature — the Omnium Gatherum, 
the Mirror, and Something. The names of the last three 
are sufficiently indicative of the casual quality of their 

Boston literary producers seem to have been grouped 
into two camps, the High-brows and the Low. The activ- 
ities of the former were absorbed by the Anthology 
and the religious periodicals. The Anthology Club was 
composed of Liberal Congregationalists who were on the 
road to Unitarianism, and of equally high-thinking lay- 
men; and it was their magazine which focused, if it did 
not establish, the close Boston connection between re- 
ligious and critical literature which linked the two in 
Boston periodicals for more than half a century. This, 
with the historical and scientific spirits who had begun 
early to group themselves into societies, formed the basis 
for that air of self-conscious distinction which even at 
the beginning of the century had become known as the 
Boston culture. In 1876, Holmes wrote to Lowell: 
** We Boston people are so bright and wide-awake and 
have really been so much in advance of our fellow-bar- 


barians with our Monthly Anthologies and "Atlantic 
Monthlies and North American Reviews, that we have 
been in danger of thinking our local scale was the abso- 
lute one of excellence — forgetting that 212 Fahrenheit 
is but 100 Centigrade.'^ But if Lowell, himself, stood 
in some need of the roguish warning in 1876, no brahmin 
in the first decade of the century ever dreamed of meas- 
uring either hot air or cold by any other than the local 
thermometer. Boston, too, was naturally the place where 
the young plants from the Harvard nursery across the 
river, first unfolded their green shoots to the atmosphere 
of the outer world. It was an atmosphere scarcely less 
artificial than the academic one — the college youth 
merely continued across the Charles their philosophic and 
bookish discussions and their college ideals and pedantic 
playfulness, made scarcely aware in their passage that 
they had crossed a rubicon. 

In 1820, from February to July, some of these youths 
printed in Boston an elegant little magazine called the 
Club-Room. It was a debonnair pamphlet decidedly 
composed for the cognoscenti. Among those who wrote 
its unsigned articles were Prescott, Edward Everett, War- 
ren, Gardiner, Parsons, Dexter, Ware. It was Prescott 
who had suggested making into a periodical the papers 
which had been read at their club. The price of this 
elegant little pamphlet was forty-five cents. Its culture 
was fairly represented by one of its moments of stately 
unbending — a Latin poem entitled Julietta-Romeoni 
and the introduction which went with it. " Club begs to 
apologise to his fair readers for putting on these pedantic 
airs and assures them he deliberated no less than five 
minutes upon the expediency of talking Latin or of leaving 
the pages wholly blank. He was finally determined by 
the consideration, that to the greater part of the sex, one 
would be quite as acceptable as the other — while to those 
young ladies in training for Blue-Stockings, the former 
would be of manifest advantage as a finish to their educa- 


tion in teaching them to construe Latin and compose 
love-letters at the same time." 

Longfellow was one of those youths who was writing 
for the magazines even while at college. The American 
Monthly of Philadelphia had printed some of his prose 
and promised him an honorarium which he never got. 
He turned hopefully to an editor nearer home — Theo- 
philus Parsons, who conducted the semi-monthly United 
States Literary Gazette begun in April, 1824 — but appar- 
ently he was not, for his earlier contributions, even 
promised an honorarium (word redolent of a high-class 
distinction, conveying the delicate discrimination genteel 
ladies observe between boarders and paying guests!). 
He seems to have published several poems there before 
he took the bull by the horns when he sent another batch. 
Then Parsons wrote him : " In reply to the question 
attached to them, I can only say that almost all the poetry 
we print is sent us gratis, and that we have no general 
rule or measure of repayment. But the beauty of your 
poetry makes me wish to obtain your regular aid. Would 
you be kind enough to let me know what mode or amount 
of compensation you desire? For the prose we publish 
we pay one dollar a column. Perhaps the best course 
will be for you to supply me for a few numbers with both 
prose and poetry. For all that is used you shall receive 
a compensation which you shall think adequate. . . . The 
North American Review does not seek for novelties so 
much as a Gazette must." The next year, the new editor, 
Mr. Carter, begged with due compliments a continuance 
of contributions and hoped at no distant day to adopt 
the Edinburgh Review price of a guinea a page, and 
promised to " be as agreeable as possible." He said he 
had made arrangements with Mr. Percival to contribute 
a stated amount regularly, " if he does not disappoint us 
as poets sometimes do. We shall then bring the two 
American poets, as some of the newspapers call Bryant 
and Percival, side by side. I think you had better let us 


have three American poets." It is interesting to observe 
that, on the scale of Longfellow's necessary expenditure 
at college, a remuneration of one dollar a close column 
from a semi-monthly which wanted him to write regu- 
larly, was not bad. In 1825, the Library of Harvard 
College cost the students just that sum per quarter, room- 
rent was from thirty to fifty dollars a year, and board 
from two to three dollars a week — his total expenses 
for one year, he said, could be fairly calculated at one 
hundred and eighty-four dollars. Thus, had the pub- 
lishers of the Literary Gazette made the same arrange- 
ment with him as with Bryant, he could more than have 
paid his way through the college year. Bryant had told 
Judge Parsons, when asked to name the remuneration 
he expected, that he wanted two dollars apiece for his 
poems ; but Cummings and Hilliard so appreciated him as 
a contributor, that they offered him two hundred dollars 
a year for an average of one hundred lines a month. 
(His profits on his first book were not quite fifteen dol- 
lars!) The periodical took Bryant's entire output during 
his most prolific years, says Godwin. Never before had 
so many good poems been contributed to one periodical 
in so limited a space of time, he goes on, and their 
poetry attracted so much attention that a volume was 
made of it, which the North American Review pro- 
nounced a signal event in our literary history. From 
1823 to 1825 continued the United States Literary 
Gazette, its terms five dollars a year. It aimed to be 
bright and good but not too much so for human nature's 
semi-monthly partaking. It said, with a side glance at 
the North American Reviezv: *' Our numbers shall not 
be filled with literary gossip, or articles which are not 
to be understood and appreciated but with a degree of 
labour almost equal to that required for their composition. 
We have long seen and felt the need of such a work. We 
shall try to communicate a distinct and accurate impres- 
sion of the literary and intellectual condition and progress 
of this country. No existing journal performs the uses 


of a General Review ; it will be a leading principle of the 
Gazette to maintain this character, and to make it strictly 

This was another of the attempts to secure a place be- 
tween the larger Reviews and the more ephemeral produc- 
tions of the day, which were for many years to engage 
vainly the efforts of those Bostonians who wanted to 
hear what was going on in the intellectual world without 
being plunged anew, at the critical mention of every book, 
into multitudinous seas of words upon the development 
of the subject from the dawn of history or into the evolu- 
tion of civilisation in general and of the subject often 
not even in particular. If one looked for a criticism of 
a new work in the North American, he found mostly 
prolegomena and olla podrida; and a word to the wise 
was considered insufficient. Even the dignified and com- 
petent Journal of Philosophy and the Arts (1823-24), 
though far less exhibitionistic, had made little attempt to 
meet the more mundane half way. Nor did it specialise 
on literature. Its function was to show the progress of 
discovery in the sciences and the fine and useful arts in 
Europe and America. It hoped, in beginning on the 
second volume, that as Boston had herself almost met 
the expenses of the first, it might attract in the future 
some attention at a distance, although it had hitherto 
failed to do so. The greater Boston had not yet begun, 
however, and a magazine with so solid an appeal did 
not secure beyond her borders the support it had hoped. 
More successful in this respect, was the Boston Monthly, 
begun the following year, 1825 ; but the brahmins, always 
distrustful of mere entertainment however high, may 
have slighted it at home, for it soon disappeared. Its 
announcement was attractive; it sought to be a vehicle 
chiefly for the diffusion of the products of our own 
minds. " We warn away those who cannot relish home- 
made bread and good roast beef, now and then a piece 
of stall-fed, with a plumb-pudding ornamented with a 
fresh plucked rose. On the table will be found no 


stewed lampyres, fried mushrooms, fricasseed coots and 
wild fowl whose exquisite flavour arises from the process 
of decay. We wall not be as grave as Quakers, but among 
our correspondents shall number no Lady Snearwells. 
Being long easier to purchase literature than to raise 
or manufacture it, we became acquainted with every little 
tell-tale writer of England while our own native talent 
was neglected. It requires only the genial ray of a just 
and liberal patronage to bring it forth and make it flourish. 
But as to our own immediate affairs — it must be dis- 
tinctly understood that we cannot pursue our own labours 
without a prompt remuneration for them; and the ex- 
penses of our establishment are not trivial. Our principal 
reliance for the first year was on Boston; but we are 
happy to state we have found numerous friends through- 
out the Commonwealth. We must pay a passing compli- 
ment to Maine, who has been generous in her subscrip- 
tions and liberal in her communications. She has a 
reading community." 

There are several allusions in the magazines of the 
decade to the unexpected intellectual awakening of Maine. 
One speculates if it were symptomatic of the growing 
taste for the forbidden fruits of another unpuritanical 
pursuit. Samuel Longfellow notes in the life of his 
brother that in 1820 the natives of Portland exhibited 
that dexterity in evading prohibitions for which they have 
since become famous. Theatrical performances being 
against the law, the sporting element of the staid little 
town achieved a masterpiece worthy of the generation 
which had been brought up on the canny slogan Trust 
in God but keep your powder dry. At a concert of 
vocal and instrumental music, there were played between 
the parts gratis, a three act play called The Point of 
Honor, and the three act farce Katherine and Petru- 
chio. Boston, herself, — so soon to form the avuncular 
habit of escorting the younger generation to the circus 
for educational purposes merely — was to establish its 
best-supported theatre by a similar device, and lure the 


devout beyond the stuffed birds of the spacious lobby of 
the Boston Museum into the perilous precincts beyond. 
There are people still alive whose parents took them as 
children to the Museum when they would never have 
dreamed of going to any other theatre from which the 
devil had not been exorcised. Stuffy vestibule of the 
Boston Museum, with your mouldy and dingy cases of 
commonplace curios to be encountered in many a shop 
window in the streets outside, what a symbol of the pleas- 
ing hypocrisies of Puritanism you lived to become! 
Boston culture was many years, however, in hitting upon 
some justification for reading merely for pleasure. For 
many years no magazine tainted with mere entertainment 
could gain a permanent foothold in Boston. Gazettes 
might so disport themselves without sin, but a monthly 
journal, never ! Neither culture nor religious controversy 
left her reading public any time for such low pursuits; 
and both were to look askance — the former ruefully and 
the latter bitterly — upon the sprightly Dr. Holmes, when 
ten years later he frittered away talents which might have 
been directed to the good of .humanity in his two instal- 
ments of the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table for the 
New England. Holmes, securely set within the circle of 
the elect, might have leavened Boston in spite of herself, 
but for his long absence from the periodical field. In 
1834 he wrote to John Sargent from Paris that his medi- 
cal studies prevented him from contributing to the maga- 
zine. To another he wrote, " I have entirely relinquished 
the business of writing for journals." A half dozen 
years after he left college, he practically laid down his 
pen. When he took it up again for the Atlantic Monthly, 
he found that Boston had got rid of enough of its literary 
snobbishness to treat entertaining trifles with tolerance, 
but he still encountered opposition from the religious 
branch of cultured readers, who accused him of lending 
a lofty name to vicious relaxations of thought. 

But even to Holmes in his youthful days, there clung 
some of the Boston notion of showy swagger to any 


public print which chattered brightly about matters 
frankly unedifying. In 1828 he wrote : " I have seen and 
read a good many numbers of the Yankee, and certainly 
it is an entertaining paper. * I ' is a man of some talent 
but you cannot deny that he is one of the most egotistical, 
impudent, conceited fellows that ever lived. Indeed, I 
believe that his paper owes half its popularity to the 
singular audacity and effrontery of its editor." How 
were young men to maintain the well-known Boston su- 
premacy if they were not nurtured on deep draughts of 
ambrosia? Had the adolescent Holmes never been con- 
vinced of the Boston supremacy at home, he blushingly 
owned it abroad. From Paris in 1834, he wrote, " If 
I should class the young men who have been out here from 
our three great cities, I should say that I consider that 
Boston went first, Philadelphia second, and after a long, 
long interval comes limping in New York." Yet already 
had the Boston Literary Gazette, praised though it had 
been by the North American, been obliged to amalgamate 
with the New York Literary Gazette in order to exist; 
and soon there were to be amalgamations which, as in 
the New England itself, even removed the editorial chair 
from the sacred city. The Nevu England, little dreaming 
that its day of ignominy was already fixed, conceded the 
superior mountain peaks of the Knickerbocker school, 
but serenely maintained that in Boston a higher level of 
culture diffused than elsewhere to be found in 
America. This was probably true for the scanty audience 
of her magazines and the general average of their contri- 
butions; and had not most of her brightest minds been 
feverishly engaged in religious controversy, there would 
probably have been much less disparity in the mountain 
ranges also. But souls desperately engaged amid many 
claimants in reading their title clear to heavenly man- 
sions, had little eyes for the innocent brightness of the 
new-born day. Thus, in spite of many attempts to pro- 
duce a lighter and more miscellaneous journal, the North 
American still remained the only lasting monument of a 


strictly literary type ; and though Boston was endearingly 
termed the Literary Emporium by fond youngsters, it 
bought precious Httle of their wares. 

Meantime, too, the meagre audience for a less exalted 
literature was lessened by a succession of reprint periodi- 
cals. The Atheneum or Spirit of the English Magazines, 
1825, published forty pages twice a month. The reprint 
magazines then and later could always make out a good 
case for themselves. " The articles of the Atheneum are 
not the first feeble efforts of young and inexperienced 
writers but are by men of cultivated intellect. Although, 
therefore, we cannot recommend our work to public 
patronage as a production of American writers and on 
that ground claim a support from the patriotism of the 
community, we can recommend it as a production of 
writers whose location in another part of the world is 
not a sufficient objection to their writings as long as they 
possess a quality of such paramount importance as that 
of intrinsic merit. We are by no means unfavourable 
to * the encouraging and patronising of American genius ' 
but we do not think in order to do this it is necessary to 
banish from the country all except American works." 
This magazine ran for four years, and was succeeded by 
the Banished Briton and Neptunian, by the Anglo-Ameri- 
can, and by other reprints which in spite of their wide 
choice in material and its inexpensiveness, could not 
maintain themselves until in 1844, E. Littell started the 
Living Age, which struck an enduring root. Its fruitage 
upon our library shelves occupies more space than any 
other magazine but the North American. 

These magazines provoked indignant though imper- 
sonal rejoinders from the " patriotic " periodicals ; but 
they could afford the luxury of dignified silence as they 
saw the home-born products struggle each through a 
year or two and die at last of starvation. Some publica- 
tions sought to take the middle ground which Harpers 
held so successfully two decades later and which both 
the Atlantic and the Century began to take but immedi- 


ately forsook as no longer necessary to their success. 
They tried to maintain an American character while avail- 
ing themselves of English material. Interesting for this 
reason and others, is the announcement of the American 
Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, m 
1834. " During the last few years the increase and multi- 
plication of magazines and periodicals of every character 
has been without a parallel. Yet some of them are 
strikingly defective in one respect — the subjects of which 
they treat are almost exclusively of foreign growth, and 
on that account alone, of little or no value to nine-tenths 
of their readers. The object of the American Magazine 
shall be to correct this defect and describe subjects, 
scenes, places, and persons to be found in our own fine 
and native country. It has appeared to us strange that 
such a work has not been heretofore undertaken. We 
shall not exclude anything valuable of European origin, 
but the work shall be professedly on American subjects. 
The engravings with which the work shall be embellished 
will be of the first order. Several of the gentlemen in- 
terested in the magazine are themselves engravers and 
have contributed in no small degree to bring that beautiful 
though long-neglected art to the high point of perfection 
which it has attained in this country." The American 
was profusely illustrated, to be sure, but with architectural 
and zoological and statistical subjects rather than with 
those of artistic intention; yet it very well fulfilled its 
purpose to present native topics and is a mine of interest- 
ing material. 

With the American Monthly, 1829, entered into Boston 
life one of our most showy literary figures and one who 
remained for fifteen years the most popular in America, 
and was until his death our best-paid magazinist. 
" When the picturesque Willis was a young and already 
famous man," says Holmes, " he was something between 
a remembrance of Count D'Orsay and an anticipation of 
Oscar Wilde. Lowell was a schoolboy, Emerson unheard 
of, Longfellow not yet conspicuous, and Whittier just 


beginning to make his way against writers better edu- 
cated." Not so dashing and splendid a personality as he 
was shortly to become after he had received the London 
hall-mark, young Willis was still quite a blade when he 
set up an editorial chair in Boston just two years after 
his sober father had begun there that most successful 
and long-lived of young people's periodicals, the Youth's 
Companion. From boyhood he had been successful. A 
classmate of his at New Haven, quotes Mr. H. A. Beers 
in his Life, testifies that he had taken while at college 
many prizes in outside literary competitions. " It was 
then customary for the editors of weekly and monthly 
periodicals who ordinarily paid their contributors nothing, 
to stimulate Columbia's infant muse by an annual burst 
of generosity in the shape of a prize for the best poem 
they had printed during the year." When he came to 
Boston from New Haven, he was both Jack and Master 
of all literary trades. " The editor is a young man," he 
announced with that competent briskness and cosmopoli- 
tanism of tone which stayed by him through life, " but 
he trusts that with the promised assistance of several able 
writers and an entire devotion on his part, the Monthly 
may be found worthy of the patronage it solicits. The 
Monthly is intended to resemble as nearly as possible the 
London New Monthly edited by Thomas Campbell. 
There is a call for a magazine of the literary character 
it proposes. The two leading Reviews of this country 
are published but seldom and are confined to the heavier 
branches of literature and science; and though there are 
lighter periodicals of very considerable merit, there is a 
wide interval between the two. Payment in advance 
($5.00 a year) is required for the following reasons. 
The expenses of a new establishment make it desirable 
and proper. In Europe periodical works are paid for 
either in advance or when each number is taken. This 
practice is fast gaining in America, and it is hoped may 
become universal. In that case, the little debts which 
are so often troublesome to subscribers, and so discourag- 


ing and sometimes ruinous to publishers, are not suffered 
to exist." Among the several able writers who had 
promised assistance were young Appleton and Motley, 
both students at Harvard; and the devotion he himself 
promised he made good at the rate of from thirty to forty 
pages every month of tales, essays, and reviews. Al- 
though he said he was the only editor in the country who 
paid anything for verse, he announced that he could not 
pay as much as the English magazines for contributions. 
" The difficulty of transmission over such an immense 
country and the comparatively small proportion of literary 
readers limit our circulation to a thousand or two at the 
farthest." But literary Boston, though mildly captivated 
by this engaging person, was not in the habit of paying 
in advance or even taking single copies regularly on such 
hard terms; and after two years and a half Willis shook 
the dust of the ungrateful town from his shoes and made 
tracks for New York with his magazine, which he amalga- 
mated with the New York Mirror in 183 1. " The mines 
of Golconda," he said afterwards, " would not tempt me 
to return and live in Boston." When he resumed his 
editorial work in New York, he had learned that the way 
to keep a publication alive was not to pay " not much " 
but to pay nothing at all, except to his own editorial staff ; 
and he said so with the utmost frankness. The circula- 
tion of New York magazines like those of Boston was 
largely local, but those Bostonians who stumbled across 
the Mirror must have comforted themselves for their 
growing fear of metropolitan eminence by the consoling 
thought that it was reflecting many of its editor's articles 
which had first seen light in their own American Monthly. 
Willis in his large amount of writing for the Boston 
magazine had contributed to it a social smartness and 
fashionable tone which, when he specialised on polite 
subjects in his New York publications, soon gained him 
recognition as arbiter of elegance. After a decade of 
the usual failures to float light-reading in Boston, was 
projected a magazine which frankly styled itself a Reposi- 


tory of Literature and Fashion, in the endeavour to cap- 
ture some of the phenomenal success of Godeys in Phila- 
delphia, — which might, indeed, have stolen from Boston 
the source of its success, — Mrs. Hale, once editor of the 
Ladies Magazine. This new periodical was the Boston 
Miscellany, edited by Nathan Hale, Junior. It scandal- 
ised the academicians by featuring fashions as well as 
literature. This, of course, was nothing new, but Boston 
cared to feel — in spite of ample demonstration to the 
contrary — that she had outgrown the necessities of her 
Colonial literary struggles. Yet even the Atheneum 
which got all its material for nothing and charged five 
dollars a year, had helped itself along with coloured 
fashion-plates as well as engravings. Nathan raged at 
the ignominious clog of fashions which dangled from the 
hind leg of his soaring steed, yet it is probable that on 
account of it his Pegasus was permitted to continue its 
flight to the middle of the second year. The son of a 
literary family, he started out with high ideals. " Who 
is that Hale Jr. that sent me the Boston Miscellany f 
Mrs. Stowe w^ote to her husband from Cincinnati^ ** and 
will he keep his word with me? His offers are very 
liberal — twenty dollars for three pages of not very close 
print. Is he to be depended on? If so, it is the best 
offer I have received yet.'' Lowell got fifteen dollars 
a poem from it when Graham was paying him ten. 
Edward Everett Hale upon it and his father's Monthly 
Review with occasional nibbles of the North American, 
sharpened his literary eye-teeth. " When I left college. 
Dr. Palfrey asked me, very kindly, to furnish some 
articles for the North American, which he then edited; 
and these must be my first magazine articles. In Janu- 
ary, 1 84 1, my father began the publication of the Monthly 
Chronicle of Events, Discoveries, Improvements and 
Opinions and continued it for three years. In the end 
of '41 my brother Nathan was made editor of the Boston 
Miscellany and I was a sort of Man Friday on his staff 
also. Short stories, proof sheets, an occasional poem 


written up to the one engraving of the month — every 
thing I was called on to lay a hand to and did as well 
as I could." The announcement of the paper struck 
a somewhat high and vague note. "Of the large demand 
in our country for an elegant literature, the number and 
circulation of the already established magazines furnishes 
at least some indication. It is a late day to undertake 
any defence of what is called light-reading — it has de- 
fended itself. It needs no wild belief in the glories or 
the truth of the ideal at the expense of the real to bid us 
enjoy and cultivate an acquaintance with artificial lives." 
For the latter part of the community it intended to have 
two copper-plates a number, a coloured page of Paris 
Fashions, and a piece of music. Neatly bridging the 
chasm between the paying artificial and the unprofitable 
ideal were such signed contributors as Lowell, Edward 
Everett, C. F. Hoffman, W. W. Story, T. W. Parsons, 
N. P. Willis, Fields, Hawthorne, and Poe. Lowell wrote 
many poems in by no means his lightest vein and contri- 
buted some critical work which would have been caviar to 
any miscellany whatever, to say nothing of one which 
eschewed the scholar's midnight lamp. " The appear- 
ance of an article on the Old English Dramatists in a 
Miscellany of Literature and Fashion," said that journal, 
" seems at first sight as much out of place as Thor's 
hammer among a set of jeweller's tools or Roland's two- 
handed sword on the thigh of a volunteer captain on 
parade day." Lowell himself seems to have felt its incon- 
gruity and regarded the appearance of the criticisms 
mainly as a cheap and convenient way of reprinting the 
best scenes and passages. In November, 1841, he wrote: 
" The magazine is published this morning. The figure 
on the cover with wings, etc., is intended, saith the artist, 
to portray the Genius of Literature. But how any man 
in his senses could set forth such a fat, comfortable look- 
ing fellow as the vera effigies of what is hungriest, leanest, 
empty-pursiest, and without-a-centiest on earth I am at 
a loss to say." This was two months before the New 


Year's reckoning when he wrote that he thought he might 
safely calculate on earning four hundred dollars by his 
pen the coming twelve month, which would be enough 
to support him. 

Before that year ended, Lowell issued the prospectus 
of a magazine of his own. As the editors, Lowell and 
Robert Carter, were the proprietors as well, they scorned 
the succour of the Fashion Plates and Fashion articles 
which had so chafed the literary editor of the Miscellany, 
and which had after all proved unable to keep the periodi- 
cal afloat. Lowell's poor health compelled him slightly 
to anticipate the destined failure of his magazine in a 
short time. It numbered among its literary supporters, 
Hawthorne, Parsons, Dwight, Poe; but its financial 
supporters were' not forthcoming. Poe in New York 
praised the magazine highly, as he usually did any maga- 
zine when it was printing him; and it highly deserved 
his praise, as most of the magazines did not. The 
Pioneer chose its name because it intended to push farther 
into an undiscovered country from whose bourne no 
traveller had yet returned — to seek to create and embody 
a national literature by awakening a national conscious- 
ness. " When I was beginning life," wrote Lowell many 
years later, " we had no national unity, and the only kind 
of unity we had was in New England but it was a pro- 
vincial kind." In the five years he had been writing, 
he had found an audience in the magazines of Philadel- 
phia and New York, and thus he had a wider field of 
vision than most dyed-in-the-wool Bostonians. Yet he 
had more of the Boston scorn than should have been 
possessed by a young man who had seen in three cities 
that compromise was the only law of life in the magazine 
world. " The contents of each number will be entirely 
Original and will consist of articles chiefly from Ameri- 
can authors of the highest reputation. Its object is to 
furnish the intelligent and reflecting portion of the Read- 
ing Public with a rational substitute for the enormous 
quantity of thrice diluted trash in the shape of namby- 


pamby love tales and sketches which is monthly poured 
out to them by many of our popular magazines, — and 
to offer instead thereof, a healthy and manly Periodical 
Literature whose perusal will not necessarily involve a 
loss of time and a deterioration of every moral and in- 
tellectual faculty." 

On the starvation of the Pioneer three months later, 
the field was again left open to what Lowell called the 
trashy monthlies and the weeklies ; and it was again dem- 
onstrated in Boston that the reflecting part of the Read- 
ing Public would not buy lighter literature. They found 
all the room for reflection they cared for in the pages of 
the North American, which disdained lightness, and in the 
religious periodicals, which not only did not disdain it but 
admitted as good quality of it as was published in most 
magazines especially devoted to it. Moreover, there 
were weeklies and news-sheets constantly appearing which 
did the same thing. All of these re-printed as they 
pleased, with or without acknowledgment, any tid-bit they 
had discovered in the magazines. Their literary page was 
scissored impartially from all exchanges, and chestnuts 
were plucked systematically from the fire that the maga- 
zines had taken so much trouble and risk to build and 
keep going. There was small incentive for any house- 
hold to take in a periodical devoted to light literature when 
it could get gratis with its news and its politics as much 
of the best light literature as it could digest. For new 
literary material, the papers paid as a rule nothing what- 
ever; and most of our writers began to publish in that 
way. Lucy Larcom asked five dollars from Sartain's 
Magazine, but she was sending poems to the National Era 
at the same time without asking or expecting remunera- 
tion. A few years later, the weeklies were quite generally 
paying popular writers by the column for their work, 
and in another generation they and the newspapers some- 
times featured literary leads at fabulous prices. In 1868, 
Mrs. Stowe wrote Mrs. Fields about Old Town Folks 
(the copy for which Fields had been vainly endeavouring 


to extract for her, although she had been paid in advance 
so that she might concentrate all her efforts upon it) : 
" It would be greatly for my pecuniary interest to get it 
done before the first of September, because I have an of- 
fer of eight thousand dollars for the newspaper use of the 
story I am planning to write afterward.'* But this glad 
day was not yet. 

With competition, then, from news and political and 
religious papers plentifully besprinkled with literature, 
monthly periodicals devoted to the latter could not long 
exist. As true in 1845 ^^ in 1835 were the words of the 
Boston Pearl. " We beg to say that in our humble opin- 
ion no monthly magazine exists in this land which can 
be said to be exceedingly creditable to the country." It 
might have made an exception of the New England, but 
for some reason, probably personal, it had little liking for 
that meritorious magazine and lost few chances of saying 
so. " We are told that puffing is the order of the day," 
it said editorially, " and that the New England eschews 
such a course. But the non-puffing character of the New 
England is not quite attained yet — for we pronounce it 
the most notorious reservoir of puffs in the country." 
The Pearl published a weekly review of the theatre and 
a musical department which also furnished original com- 
positions. But in spite of numbering Whittier, John 
Neal, Tuckerman, Pike, Longfellow, Mrs. Stephens, and 
Mrs. Sigourney among its contributors, and in spite of 
publishing poems of sometimes very considerable length 
(one of fifty Childe Harold stanzas, for instance) it did 
not aspire to nor was it accorded the dignity of letters to 
which any monthly periodical might lay claim by the sole 
title of its less frequent appearance. The North Ameri- 
can, which wore the highest crown of all, was still a 
quarterly. The pert stand of the Pearl in the matter of 
subscriptions would alone show how remote it was from 
the loftiness of the true literary spirit. It, at times, pub- 
lished a list of delinquents and threatened to stereotype 
the persistent offenders ! 


When the Dial ran down in 1844 because its ardent sup- 
porters practised not wisely but too well the plain living 
they preached, and borrowed rather than bought, the 
Harbinger of Brook Farm became its successor in 1845. 
The same spirit informed it and the same people wrote for 
it. Its editors were Ripley, Dana, and Dwight; and 
among the contributors were Clarke, Curtis, Channing, 
and Cranch. Edited in a less temperamental manner and 
managed with better business skill, it outlived the social 
experiment of which it was the organ ; and when Brook 
Farm was abandoned, it was still strong enough to scrab- 
ble two years for its living in the streets of New York. 
The Harbinger was almost as endeared to its readers as 
the Dial had been. The great civilising work of Clarke in 
the West was equalled in a more specialised way by that of 
Dwight in Boston. There he issued in 1852 the first num- 
ber of Dwight' s Journal of Music, destined to perform 
a great cultural mission. It was to give an honest report, 
week by week, "of what we hear and feel and in our poor 
way understand of the great world of music. Music has 
made rapid progress within the last fifteen and even the 
last ten years. It requires a regular bulletin. Very con- 
fused, crude, heterogeneous is this sudden musical activ- 
ity in a young utilitarian people. It needs a faithful, 
severe, friendly voice to point out steadfastly the models 
of the true, the ever beautiful, the divine." The periodi- 
cal continued in various sizes for over thirty years, and 
its farewell was attended by a tribute greater than any 
other American periodical had ever received. In 1880, 
the year before it closed its long and honourable career 
during which its editor had consistently refused to allow 
it to be published in the interests of any music house (a 
unique record), it was tendered a testimonial concert by 
the musicians of its native city which it had done so 
much to make the foremost musical centre of America. 
But the six thousand dollars they raised were insufficient 
to keep it going in the face of competition from musical 


journals whose fortunes were watched over by interested 

It is rather ironic to find that after all of Boston's 
attempts in the first half of the century to sustain a mis- 
cellany which should equal in stability the North Ameri- 
can Review and secure, as it had secured, some favour- 
able European mention, destiny had reserved the latter 
boon, though not the former, to the Lozvell Offering. 
What had been denied to Dennie, to Tudor, to Bucking- 
ham, to Emerson, to Lowell as editors, was bestowed, and 
in the most public and flattering manner, upon the mill- 
girls of Lowell! Also, its circulation, though limited, 
was probably wider than any of the Boston magazines of 
the half-century period. Aside from the unique and mov- 
ing nature of its appeal, there is something particularly en- 
gaging about this candid human document. Never before 
had a periodical written as its valedictory, " It has sup- 
ported itself and has supported us, and very likely better 
than we should have supported ourselves in any other 
way." It was a magazine of thirty one-column pages, 
price six and a half cents. On the first copy was the an- 
nouncement '^ This number wholly written by Females 
employed in the Mills/' In order to combat the prejudice 
against female editors and publishers, it was thought best 
that the enterprise be endorsed by some of the leading men 
of the city. There are no longer any Females ; and one 
supposes the anti-suffragists might counter gloomily 
" And no mill girls who can publish a magazine either T" 
Yet on second thoughts, even an anti-suffragist could 
hardly take a periodical composed and printed by even 
pre-historic mill-girls as an argument that woman's place 
is the home. Flushed with its success, the magazine 
adorned its plain cover with a vignette, and explained it 
thus : " To represent the New England school-^girl, of 
which the factories are made up, standing near a bee- 
hive, emblem of industry and intelligence, and in the back- 
ground the Yankee school-house, church, and factory." 


The motto was The Worm on Earth May Look up to the 
Star. " But this rather abject sentiment," writes Har- 
riet Robinson, '* was changed finally to Is Saul among the 
Prophets? It may be said that at one time its fame 
caused the mill-girls to be considered very desirable for 
wives. In answer to many doubting Thomases the editor 
said : ' The articles are all written by factory-girls and 
ive do not revise them. We have taken less liberty with 
them than editors usually take.' " Perhaps it was because 
of this lack of editorial interference that within the space 
of three years' time seven books had been published by its 
contributors. Lucy Larcom wrote for it, and says that 
on the advice of the editor she summoned up enough cour- 
age to demand payment for a poem submitted to a maga- 
zine of the outer world. The North American in its 
stately way indorsed the Lowell Offering and said that it 
was probably exciting more attention in England than any 
other American publication. There, Harriet Martineau 
had eagerly pounced upon it as propaganda for her revolu- 
tionary idea that working hands might have thinking 
brains which the country would be better for cultivating ; 
Dickens said in his American Notes that it would com- 
pare advantageously with a great many English annuals. 
In France, George Sand glowed with this message from 
the new world that a factory need not stifle mental and 
emotional energy; and Thiers actually carried it into the 
Chamber of Deputies as an exhibit of the possibilities of 
working women under a Republican government. 

The Lowell Offering was, however, but the daintiest of 
rapier thrusts in comparison to the bludgeon which was in 
pickle for the Boston high-brows. The Hub had refused 
to support a magazine of light literature, and the gods, as 
if in retribution, were to make her the protesting parent of 
the popular illustrated weekly in America. Recall, if you 
will, the shudder of culture at illustrations even of the 
better sort, and you will see that this was a heavy blow. 
The cradle of the North American, the country's longest 
lived and most dignified publication, was to be desecrated 


by a bouncing and tattooed infant which made not the 
least pretensions whatever to literature in the Boston 
sense, and yet sprang almost at once into Boston's most 
profitable periodical. Gleason's, afterwards Ballou's 
Pictorial, fell away just as far as her shameless name be- 
tokens from the standard of the Tradition. Its pictures 
were multitudinous for that day and would be many for 
ours. They illustrated not only its wildly romantic tales 
and serials but topics of the day also. Gleason's was not 
even good enough to be embalmed in history, ungener- 
ously derided like the Ledger by the prominent writers 
whom it paid better than any other periodical. The his- 
torian cannot discover that it even shocked the sober re- 
ligious papers by any pyrotechnics, as did the Ledger 
when it captured Beecher, for instance. It was only hope- 
lessly and fatly bourgeois. Nor was its great financial 
success in its native town the sole thorn it planted in her 
side. To have given birth to a Pictorial was bad enough 
for a well-connected matron, but even with this affliction 
Boston had not sufficiently atoned for her sin of scorn- 
ful indifTerence to all but ambrosia. The builder of the 
Boston tradition became the grandmother of a brood of 
pictorials, and thus was the means of debauching the taste 
of all America with pictures. For on deacon's staff was 
a young Englishman named Carter, who perceived that 
the old idea of just enough pictures to float the text was 
a back number, and that one would get more profitable 
returns if he figured upon just enough text to float the 
pictures. This young man came to New York, and, 
changing his name (possibly to bury completely his Bos- 
ton past), started in 1855 Frank Leslie's Illustrated News- 
paper. And upon the money which he harvested during 
the Civil War, through his field correspondents accom- 
panied by artists, he committed misdemeanour after mis- 
demeanour. He became a " pictorial " factory, and the 
national influence of his ten illustrated papers and maga- 
zines proved really frightful (viewed with the eyes of the 
Boston Tradition). Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly 


(1876) lived up for almost a quarter of a century to its 
epithet. And by that time Boston had grown less proud 
of her attitude, and realised that she was getting a little 
stiff in the joints. 



" Dissect ridicule and you will find envy," saith the sage. 
The pedigree of the stock joke about Philadelphia should 
comfort that city for adding to the gaiety of comic week- 
lies and vaudeville monologues. It dates back to the time 
when she was easily first in the sisterhood of cities. Bos- 
ton and New York, smarting at her greater culture and 
social development, took refuge in a contemptuous sniff; 
and New York sniffed the louder because she had more 
reason to be jealous. 

Yet, of all human mechanisms, that which is known as 
" saving the face " is most constantly on the job; and the 
transparent gibe began to have real point as it came of 
age. For when Philadelphia grew conscious that her 
supremacy was dwindling, she in her turn sought to sup- 
port her chagrin by adopting that buttressed complacency 
for which she is now notorious. At the beginning of the 
century Neal, in an English magazine, jealously referred 
to her natives as " mutton-headed Athenians," but he 
knew in his soul that Philadelphia had the right to call 
herself the Athens of America. Later, Irving said the 
Philadelphians did nothing but pun, and a little later still, 
Longfellow said they did nothing but dance. Toward 
the end of the fifty-year period which this chapter covers, 
Lowell, with no jealousy whatever (although he had come 
to Philadelphia because Boston couldn't support him), 
termed the city a provincial valley of self-sufficientness 
and contentment. Leland, returning from Europe in 
1842 to his birthplace, said there was no city in the 
world of which so little evil could be said and so much 
good, yet of which so few ever spoke with enthusiasm. 



Its inhabitants were all well bathed, well clad, well behaved, 
all with exactly the same ideas and the same ideals. A degree 
of refinement was everywhere perceptible, and they were so 
fond of flowers that I once ascertained by careful enquiry that 
in most respectable families there was annually much more 
money expended for bouquets than for books. When a Phila- 
delphian gave a dinner or supper his great care was to see 
that everything on the table was as good or perfect as possible. 
I had been accustomed to first considering what should be placed 
around it on chairs as the main item. 

Nevertheless, in spite of them all and in spite of the 
undeniable smugness which Philadelphia had now 
achieved, she published and read more books than either 
of her sisters. During the first half of the century there 
were at least one hundred and sixteen Philadelphia maga- 
zines. Of these in general, only two items can here be 
noted. As early as 1805 she had tried to float the first 
theatrical magazine in America, and within the decade 
she repeated the attempt five times. In 1824 she kept 
twelve magazines going at once, three literary, four re- 
ligious, three medical, and two political. And though 
Boston had snatched the fillet from her brow, and only 
within her household was heard any longer the boast that 
she was the American Athens, she was still centre of cul- 
ture enough to inaugurate and centre of practicality 
enough to maintain the three most successful magazines 
— artistically or financially or both — of the entire period. 
Thus if she had become the Tomlinson of cities, it was to 
some purpose. In them she did more to encourage 
" light literature " in America than Boston, who had 
seized the sceptre in 181 5, or New York, who soon began 
to clamour for it. 

From up Boston way, in 1789, the American Addison 
came to the American Athens ; and with his coming Phila- 
delphia knew her treble supremacy complete. The seat 
of government, of society, and of the arts (or, as the 
original Friends might have put it, the world and the 
flesh and the Devil), she had in all respects her heart's 
desire. And Joseph Dennie, who was Secretary to the 


Department of State, the brilliant centre of her coterie of 
fashion, and as Oliver Oldschool the founder of her Port 
Folio, summed up in his one person all three. Here is a 
picture of the famous man, as Buckingham saw him when 
a printer's devil in his northern editorial sanctum : " A 
pea-green coat, white vest, nankin small-clothes, white 
silk stockings, pumps with silver buckles, which covered 
at least half his foot. His small-clothes were tied at the 
knees with ribbon of the same colour in double bows, the 
end reaching down to the ankles. His hair in front was 
well loaded with pomatum, craped and powdered; the 
ear-locks had undergone the same process; behind, his 
natural hair was augmented by a large queue, which, en- 
rolled in some yards of black ribbon, reached half way 
down his back." This was, if you please, his simple 
working costume and in provincial New England. Fancy 
how his brave vibration glittered free when he really 
spread himself among his peers in Philadelphia, home of 
wealth and fashion and courtly refuge of many titled 
foreign exiles! But well for him that the table-loving 
metropolis was hospitable, and thus he could economise 
in other ways, for as secretary his salary of one thousand 
dollars only just equalled his earnings in Walpole, New 

" He contributed to chasten the morals and to refine 
the taste of the nation," inscribed J. Q. Adams upon his 
tombstone. An Addisonian in life, you see, in death they 
were not divided. Where is it fled, that stately and 
heavy Addisonian ideal? Can one imagine the familiar 
epitaph ever being chiselled again? Refine the taste of 
the comparatively refined, the Port Folio certainly did 

— Josiah Quincy said it was far and away the best 
American periodical and quite as good as any English one 

— but the unrefined saw very little of it. Established in 
1 80 1, on its fourth birthday it had raised its price to six 
dollars — a strapping sum for the Philadelphia yeoman. 
But, a thoroughly high-class magazine, it would have been 
caviare to the general. The middle class, when it came 


their way, foamed at its lack of patriotism. It unspar- 
ingly condemned what in America was bad and bump- 
tious ; it did not feel that America had created all at once 
an entirely new set of values j it admitted Thomas Moore 
and Alexander Wilson (visitors in Philadelphia) direct 
to its columns, instead of stealing them by reprint, as any 
patriotic American magazine should have done. Seeing 
these several treacheries, what self-respecting American 
would have cared how much it had extolled the art of 
Benjamin West and sought a market for him; or that 
it praised ardently the native products it could praise ; or 
that it attacked the reviewers and magazine-makers of 
Great Britain (even when their cadences were most Addi- 
sonian ! ) for " the fastidious arrogance with which they 
treat the genius and intellect of this country," and said 
it was only equalled by their profound ignorance of the 
situation ; or that it attacked American critics for " enter- 
ing into a conspiracy to exterminate American poetry "? 
In short, refusing to praise Americans because they were 
Americans and blame Britons because they were Britons, 
it ran counter to native prejudice, as other unpatriotic 
Americans have done since ; and if it leaned too much to 
the English side, one must not forget the Addisonian pull 
and the fact that to many an old-school gentleman like 
Dennie, Noah Webster's proposition of a Columbian 
Dictionary seemed impious. " Let it be called Noah's 
Ark," he stormed, " full of its foul and unclean things ! " 
When the old gentleman — our second professional 
man of letters — departed the Philadelphia coterie he had 
so handsomely graced and the heady new world he had 
so stubbornly striven to hold to Addisonian ideals, the 
momentum he had given his elegant magazine lasted 
for some years. In fact, even after it had begun to 
take in sail it was an unconscionable while a-dying. No 
sooner had it climbed to what Dennie would have thought 
the high top-gallant of his joy — being extensively copied 
by the London Monthly — than it was ready to decline. 
In 1820 it was attempting in vain to arouse the sleep- 


ing citizens with a Cassandra call that New York and 
Boston were threatening their supremacy. Up to that 
time her contributors had numbered every person of 
literary consequence within her border; now the traitors 
and ingrates were sending their wares to New York! 
As for that upstart city, one of its urchins, Salmagundi, 
had even dared to sit and grin in public at the three- 
cornered hat and the breeches of the Last Leaf. " One 
of the editors of the Port Folio/' snickered the saucebox, 
" has been discharged for writing common sense." In 
1823 the magazine was feeling bitterly its fluttering pulse. 
" The last volume contains very few communications 
from any friend to us and to our cause. In the days of 
our first predecessors such was the number and zeal of 
contributors that the editor was obliged to exchange the 
labour of composition for that of selection." Indeed, 
that year had seen little but European reprints — neither 
its courage nor its choice, but its necessity in being old. 
Until 1827 it paced its banquet-hall deserted; then, with 
the queue of its courtly founder, it went to a postponed 
but dignified interment. 

It was in 1838 that Poe moved to Philadelphia and 
arranged to write for the Gentlemen's Magazine. This 
had been founded the preceding year by William E. Bur- 
ton, the actor, who seems to have mounted his hobby- 
horse gaily and with no more serious purpose than taking 
a fling with his literary tastes and his own pleasant but 
occasional pen. Poe became at once his chief contributor, 
and before the second year was up his editor. The finan- 
cial arrangement seems to have been more or less of Poe's 
own making; and when he afterward complained of it 
he not only forgot this fact, but the important additional 
one that his fixed salary of ten dollars a week demanded 
but two hours work a day, and the arrangement especially 
contemplated giving him ample leisure to write at his 
regular rates for the magazine and for other periodi- 
cals also. When Poe had first applied to him, Burton 
wrote : 


The expenses of this magazine are already wofully heavy; 
more so than my circulation warrants. I am certain that my 
expenditure exceeds that of any publication now extant, includ- 
ing the monthlies which are double in price. Competition is 
high — new claimants are daily arising. I am, therefore, com- 
pelled to give expensive plates, thicker paper and better print- 
ing than my antagonists, or allow them to win the goal. My 
contributors cost me something handsome, and the losses upon 
credit, exchange, etc., are becoming frequent and serious. I 
mention this list of difficulties as some slight reason why I do 
not close with your offer, which is indubitably liberal, without 

Burton thus looked upon Poe in the light of a luxury 
which he feared he could not afford, as he himself up to 
this time had been editor of his own magazine. The new 
editor at once demonstrated his value, however, and for 
awhile everything was satisfactory. But at the end of 
six months his besetting sin got the better of him once 
more and began to diminish his efficiency. Burton ap- 
pears to have treated him with the friendliest considera- 
tion, although another besetting sin of Poe's was landing 
the magazine into difficulties. " You must get rid of 
your avowed ill-feelings toward your brother-authors," 
wrote Burton. " You see, I speak plainly — indeed, I 
cannot speak otherwise. Several of my friends, hearing 
of our connection, have warned me of your uncalled-for 
severity in criticism." But though Poe somewhat 
mended his ways in the one respect, he did not in the 
other. Burton returned to the city one day to find the 
number still unfinished after the regular date of publica- 
tion and Poe incapacitated. When the same thing oc- 
curred again, Poe was dismissed. Burton resumed the 
editorial chair. But in this case, as in several others, 
Poe could look back upon his departure from a magazine 
as the beginning of a wane in its popularity. Like Mr. 
By- Ends in Pilgrim's Progress, he often had the luck 
to jump in his conclusions with the times. Not long 
afterward. Burton asked George Graham to buy his 
magazine and said he wanted to raise money for his new 


theatre. He had run it for four years and was now 
finding it encroach too much upon his acting. It had 
just thirty-five hundred subscribers, and he would sell 
it for that number of dollars. Graham was running a 
magazine called The Casket on fifteen hundred sub- 
scribers. He united the two, and the five thousand 
subscribers found their good-will desired for a new maga- 
zine entitled Grahmns. Fortune smiled upon the union 
and blessed it with riches and honour, if not with length 
of days. In a comparatively short time it had reached 
a circulation of over thirty thousand, an unprecedented 
popularity; and at the beginning of its second year, in 
1842, Greeley printed in the Tribune that it was already 
one of the best magazines of the country and that in 
refusing its pages to puerile love-stories, maudlin senti- 
ment and stupid verse it had elevated the standard of 
periodical literature. 

Park Benjamin wrote to Graham when he was starting 
out, " I think I could get Longfellow to write an occa- 
sional poem for you at twenty dollars; he asks twenty- 
five." Graham had immediately set about building up 
his circulation by publishing the best writers in the 
country; and though he was not the first editor to pay 
as much as he could afford, he soon became the first to 
make a habit of paying well. " I shall be happy to re- 
ceive stories at twenty-five dollars and poetry at ten 
dollars per article," he wrote to Frances Osgood as early 
as 1843. To the principal contributors he was paying 
as high as twelve dollars a page. Though these prices 
had been beaten by the New York Knickerbocker, the 
average contributors to that periodical paid dearly for it 
and the new writers habitually received no money what- 
ever. Peterson told Mrs. Osgood in 1844 that two 
dollars a page and five dollars a poem were the regular 
Philadelphia rates for all publishers but Graham. 
Though Poe was not necessarily sincere in his published 
criticism of contemporary periodicals in the New World 
in 1843, he told the plain truth when he said: "The 


most popular of all the magazines is that published by 
Mr. Graham, who is a practical business man and a friend 
to men of talents of every cast. Every article which he 
prints is liberally paid for, and he has the honour of 
patronising a larger number of eminent writers in prose 
and verse than any other publisher in the country." 
Bryant, in his private correspondence in 1842, several 
times marvelled at the " vastness " of its circulation. 
Indeed, the success of the newer style of publications — 
Graham's, Godey's, and the Ladies' Companion — 
seemed to him disquieting, in spite of the fact that our 
best writers were appearing in all three. He may 
have thought, as did Mrs. Stowe, that poets and essayists 
should not elbow their way among coloured fashion- 
plates. Graham appears to have tried for awhile to 
conduct the editorial and the business departments of his 
magazine both at once, but the exactions of the latter 
proved too much for him. " I sometimes wish," he wrote 
to Mrs. Osgood in 1843, "that I had gone on quietly 
in my little law office, using my pen modestly as a writer 
for a few years more, instead of embarking on the stormy 
sea of publishing heart and — I sometimes fear — soul. 
I do not fancy I should have made much more, but I 
fancy I should have had more moments of delight than 
can be possibly stolen from the bustle of an active and 
successful business life. Do you know that among my 
forty thousand readers there are but few, and among 
several score of agents there are none, who do not think 
a publisher bound to answer all their impertinence, as 
well as to furnish them books for their money ? " In 
less than a year Graham decided that he could not serve 
God and mammon at the same time, and decided to call 
Poe — who seems to have been recommended to his at- 
tention by Burton, in spite of their two mishaps — to the 
exclusive service of the former. 

If one may venture to carry out this somewhat startling 
figure of speech, it can be added that Poe was no sooner 
installed than he sought to purge the temple of its money- 


changers. Although he showed an excellent head for 
business, it did not seem to occur to him, any more than 
to Bryant or Mrs. Stowe, that it may have been the 
money-changers who so swelled the congregation. He 
wrote Thomas much later that his reason for resigning 
from Graham's was " disgust with the namby-pamby 
character of the magazine; I allude to the contemptible 
pictures, fashion-plates, music and love-tales." The 
salary, too, did not pay him, he said, for the labour he was 
forced to bestow. When he was seeking to interest 
Anthon in his own project of a magazine, he wrote : 

In about eighteen months after I became editor of Graham's 
its circulation increased from about five thousand to no less 
than fifty thousand [which was decidedly stretching it at both 
ends !] — astonishing as this may appear. It is now two years 
since I left it, and the number is not more than twenty-five 
thousand. In three years it will be extinct. The nature of this 
journal was such that even its fifty thousand subscribers could 
not make it very profitable. Its price was three dollars, but 
not only were its expenses immense, owing to the employment 
of absurd steel plates and other extravagances, which tell not 
at all, but recourse was had to innumerable agents who received 
it at a discount of no less than fifty per cent, and whose frequent 
dishonesty occasioned enormous loss. 

Graham testifies that Poe was an admirable editor. 
Poe's weakness may have been the cause of their separa- 
tion, but it is more likely to have been the quarrel which 
Graham avers. At any rate, their relations remained 
friendly. Graham accepted a story from him in New 
York, for which Poe asked and was paid fifty-two dollars. 
As the story was unpublished for a year, the author asked 
and received permission to submit it for a prize of one 
hundred dollars ofifered by the Dollar Magazine of Phila- 
delphia. The story was The Gold Bug, and it won 
the competition. In March, 1850, Graham printed an 
open letter to Willis defending Poe against Griswold's 
biography. He said : " For more than eighteen months 
I saw him almost daily, much of the time writing or con- 
versing at the same desk, and he was always punctual 


and unwearied in his industry and the soul of honour 
in all his transactions. This, of course, was in his better 
days; but even after his habits had changed there was 
no literary man to whom I would more readily advance 
money for labour to be done." Not content with this, 
Graham afterward printed a mordant letter to Griswold 

For a short while after Poe's departure the magazine 
was run by Ann Stephens and Peterson together — or, 
at least, she allowed her name to be used. This presents 
an interesting discrimination quite worthy in its subtlety 
of the most genteel of modern anti-suffragists. Mrs. 
Stephens had tried her hand at running several magazines 
and considered it ladylike employment, but an editorial 
position on a newspaper (even a Sunday supplement) 
was unsexing. She once wrote to Griswold that she had 
been made ill by the cruel rumour that she had become 
editor of the Sunday News. It had so wounded her 
that if she were not compelled to write for her daily 
bread she would never put pen to paper again. " I feel 
indignant that any member of the press should believe 
me capable of accepting a situation proper only for the 
other sex ; and no one knows how keenly I feel anything 
calculated to represent me as unwomanly." Neverthe- 
less, she did not shrink at driving a very masculine bar- 
gain, if Poe's statement in that firebrand article of his on 
the New York Literati was true. In spite of announce- 
ments, he affirmed she had nothing to do with the editing 
of Graham's, of the Ladies' Companion, or of Peterson's. 
In the days when the sex was first entering the business 
field, the incompatibilities of the Old woman and the 
New engendered in the distracted minds of those ladies 
who were thus seeking to be twins some charming 

But — whatever anti-suffragist ladies may persuade 
themselves — sophistries are not solely feminine. Here 
is one of the masculine gender. Said the United States 
Gazette in 1845 : 


We perceive that our neighbours Godey and Graham have 
both taken out a copyright for their respective magazines. This 
is rather new, but on looking at the matter carefully we think 
it is entirely correct. The articles in each cost, we suppose, 
from three hundred dollars to five hundred dollars. These are 
frequently taken out bodily, and before the magazines reach 
half their subscribers their contents have been made familiar 
to the community through the daily or weekly papers. Not to 
give offence to anybody, we will state a fact: Graham gave us 
fifty dollars for a story, and we published the same article al- 
most as soon as it appeared in the magazine. We, of course, 
asked permission. 

The abuse was a very extensive one. " It is no doubt 
gratifying to a publisher to have liberal extracts made 
from his work," wrote another conscientious editor, " but 
credit to the magazines is often omitted by newspapers." 
Even the chief victims of the practice did not, for a long 
time, dream of questioning it. Apparently, they thought, 
despite the inconvenience and loss occasioned by it, the 
most they had a right to demand was credit for the re- 
printed article. In one of Godey's numbers is this edi- 
torial statement : " Nearly one-half of our book for 
the ensuing month was copied into one of the weekly 
papers some ten days before we were ready to publish. 
We had sent an early copy of our work to our editor, 
then absent, who placed it in the hands of the gentleman 
pubHsher to have an article of poetry copied in his paper. 
He copied nearly one-half of the contents." Perhaps 
even the Baltimore Visitor would have thought this 
stretching too far the courtesy of the trade, but it would 
have objected to the subterfuge rather than the thing 
itself. It expressed its opinion of this new high-handed 
act of self-protection very tartly: "It pains us to see 
that Mr. Godey has resorted to the narrowly selfish course 
of taking out a copyright for his book. He will rue it 
bitterly. Think of this insulting proposition: *We 
have no objection to any paper copying any story from 
our magazine, if they will not do it until the succeeding 
number is published/ Wonderful liberality, Mr. Godey, 


toward that department of the press to which you are 
more or less indebted for a handsome fortune ! " 
Poe wrote at the time in his Broadway Journal: 

It is really difficult to see how any one can, in conscience, 
object to such a course on the part of Messrs. Godey and Gra- 
ham. It has long been the custom among newspapers, the 
weeklies especially, to copy magazine articles in full and circu- 
late them all over the country — sometimes in advance of the 
magazines themselves. To such an extent had their piracy been 
carried that many magazine subscribers had ceased to be such, 
because they could procure all that was valuable from the news- 
papers very little later, and often at less cost. 

It was in November, 1842, that Poe left Graham's. 
The next important occupant of the chair was Rufus 
Griswold, about whose character and competence existed 
in that day as in this such vehement difference of opinion. 
Certainly, many admirable people of his day admired him ; 
and few persons, says Leland, ever possessed more en- 
thusiastic or steadily devoted friends. There were those 
who maintained, with Greeley, that nobody had ever so 
drawn to an American magazine all the talent of the 
country. Irving was the only important man who never 
wrote for it, and that was apparently because the Knicker- 
bocker had arranged for all the work which he was 
willing to publish in this way. " Our October number is 
very good," wrote Griswold to Fields, " with Bryant, 
Cooper, Longfellow, Hoffman; in November we have 
Longfellow, Cooper, Bryant, R. H. Dana, Sr., Tucker- 
man, Hoffman, Osgood." So many names of the first 
magnitude constantly shone in Graham's that the maga- 
zine seems to have been the first to give point to the 
unending controversy of fame versus merit. This had 
not arisen in the case of the equally brilliant Knicker- 
bocker, for their pages were always open to nice young 
authors who would write for nothing. Half a dozen 
years later, when both Graham's and the Knickerbocker 
were desperately trying to live up to their past, Kimball 
in New York wrote to young Leland in Philadelphia: 


" Come over to New York. It is better to have the 
influence with a periodical which gratuitous contributions 
will bring, rather than the money which you might re- 
ceive for them." But Leland, who was getting five dol- 
lars a page, " when the publishers want me at all," was 
not at the time willing to write for nothing, unless he 
did it (as shortly happened) in an editorial capacity. But 
these days for Graham's were yet distant, and in 1843 
Hawthorne was writing to Griswold : " I am advised 
that the publishers of magazines consider it desirable to 
attach writers exclusively to their own establishments 
and will pay at a higher rate for such monopoly. If 
this be the case, I should make no difficulty in forswearing 
all other periodicals for a specified time — and so much 
the more readily on account of the safety of your maga- 
zine in a financial point of view." But then, as now, the 
big guns sometimes failed to go off. The magazine had 
quite a run on Cooper, and published his Lives of the 
Naval Commanders and a serial story. Graham said the 
eighteen hundred dollars he paid for the latter might as 
well have been thrown into the sea, for it never brought 
him a new subscriber. " I am not surprised at what 
you say concerning Graham's and Godey's," wrote P. P. 
Cooke to Griswold in 1847, in answer to a letter the 
contents of which may be surmised. " Magazine articles 
derive nine-tenths of their pecuniary value to publishers 
from the known and famous names attached to them. 
Longfellow's worst poem, however a chance effort of 
mine might excel it, would be vastly more valuable to 
Graham than anything I could send him. Before hearing 
of the prize-poem method of getting supplies, these were 
my views on the subject, and I expected very little from 
the magazines pecuniarily." Graham's was not doing 
so well now; and Greeley — who was trying to find a 
market for a new writer, Thoreau, for whom Margaret 
Fuller had asked his interest — found him slow pay, and 
after waiting a year drew on him for the money. *' If 
you choose to publish this," wrote Greeley in 1846, " and 


pay as much as you pay others for right good prose, 
where you are not buying the name." The price, which 
both Griswold and Greeley called liberal, was seventy-five 
dollars -^ for an essay which formed the leading article 
for tv/o numbers. 

Although Poe said that Griswold left the magazine in 
disgrace, he continued to act off and on as its assistant 
editor for years. Graham, evidently feeling with his 
diminishing revenues that he could no longer afford an 
editor-in-chief, resumed active charge, assisted by E. P. 
Whipple to do the editorial reviews. Bayard Taylor and 
Leland came into the office later. Graham gave it up 
about 1855, ^^^ four years later it sought to revive its 
existence under the new name of the American Monthly. 
Thus Poe's amiable prophecy of its extinction within three 
years after he had ceased to guide its fortunes was almost 
a decade out of the way. On Griswold's death, Leland, 
who was then editor, printed in the magazine that under 
his care and direction it first achieved a high literary tone 
and acquired authority. Nor could Poe have convinced 
Leland, as he so easily convinced himself, that Griswold's 
management had anything to do with the decline in its 
fortunes. That it did steadily decline after Poe's de- 
parture is true, although Poe's statement that it at once 
lost half its subscription list was eminently Poe-like. 
By the time Leland took it the circulation had become 
almost nothing, and the new editor succeeded in forcing 
it up to seventeen thousand. In his autobiography he 

I filled It recklessly with all or any kind of literary matter 
as best I could, little or nothing being allowed for contribu- 
tions. For this I received fifty dollars a month. When I finally 
left it, the proprietors were eighteen months in arrears and tried 
to evade payment. Finally they agreed to pay me in monthly 
instalments, and fulfilled the engagement. While editing it I 
had one day a space to fill. In a hurry I knocked off " Hans 
Breitmann's Party." I gave it no thought whatever. Clark 
republished it soon after in the Knickerbocker, saying that it 
was evidently by me. I wrote in those days a vast number of 


such anonymous drolleries, many of them, I dare say, quite 
as good, in Graham's Magazine and the Weekly Bulletin, but 
I took no heed of them. They were probably appropriated in 
due time by the authors of " Beautiful Snow." 

Indeed, Leland seems habitually to have equalled 
Tudor's feat with the first number of the North Ameri- 
can; for, besides his literary contributions, the various 
editorial departments had now so stretched out as to 
occupy the major portion of the magazine. The Monthly 
Summary and the Review on Fashions were voluminous ; 
and the Editor's Table was decidedly of the extension 
variety, leaf after leaf being inserted each month. 

Wrote Graham's in 1844: 

It has become the fashion among a certain set, a very small 
one, to sneer at the " light " magazines — as if the literature of 
a young and growing nation must be heavy to be good, or 
would be popular if it were. The light magazines are but so 
many wings of a young people panting for a literature of their 
own. They are training a host of young writers and creating, 
an army of readers, who are urging on a happier day. We do 
not despair, if we live, of seeing a high-toned magazine with 
fifty thousand readers, or of publishing it, and without the aid 
of pictures; but the man who expects it now is a quarter of a 
century ahead of his time, a fellow with his eyes shut, dream- 
ing of a heaven which he has no ability to assist in creating. 
We have satisfied ourselves in our attempt to make Graham's 
the best of its class, and the highest even in literary reputation 
of any American magazine, and shall gradually blend with the 
lighter character of the work as much of the useful as may be 
deemed prudent. It is perhaps true that the popular magazines 
of the day are too much devoted to the merely ornamental; 
and the department of Our Portrait Gallery, with biographies 
of our own writers and naval heroes, must be hailed as a re- 
lief as well as a good omen. We believe the day is not far 
distant when the pioneers in the lighter magazine may be able 
to modify much the character of their magazines. There can 
be no doubt that as taste improves and extends, the public will 
be content with one or two exquisite original engravings worth 
a dozen copies of stale prints. If the elegant original works 
we have now in hand are properly appreciated, we shall adopt 
at once the plan of having all our pictures painted expressly 
for this magazine. In the meanwhile — gentlemen critics — 


remember that ours is a magazine of art as well as literature; 
and that we are furthering the interests of a large number of 
artists as well as writers, and judge us accordingly. 

The policy of gradually diminishing the number of 
engravings in favour of a few original ones evidently 
proved a mistake. In 1848 they announced that they 
v^ould revive the original splendour of the pictorial de- 
partment, though every attempt v^ould be made to keep 
it from degenerating into the picture-book for children 
v^hich the magazines of feebler aims had become. In 
1852 occurs this editorial comment: 

One of the magazines mentions the astonishing sum of five 
hundred dollars as designed ta be spent upon the illustrations 
of each number. We have published many a number on which 
we have expended four times that sum without any parade 
about it. The printing and paper of one of our steel plates cost 
over that sum always, to say nothing of the original cost of the 
engraving, which is from one to two hundred dollars. 

In a sketch of George Graham, with his portrait, in 
July, 1850, Charles J. Peterson said: 

He infused a new spirit into magazines. The monthlies had 
been filled with second-hand British stories or indifferently writ- 
ten original tales; while their poetry, except what was taken 
from well-known authors, was such " as both gods and men ab- 
hor " ; the illustrations were few and indifferent. Its fresh- 
ness, beauty and ability at once placed it before all others in 
popular favour. Success from the start allowed him to per- 
severe in increasing its literary and pictorial excellence. No 
sooner were Longfellow, Bryant, Cooper discovered to be per- 
manent contributors than thousands who had heretofore looked 
with contempt on American monthlies hastened to subscribe. 
The benefit thus done to popular literature cannot be calcu- 
lated. It will be long, perhaps, before any one man will have it 
in his power to do again as much. 

In 1844 the magazine was advertising that the best 
American writers were almost all of them publishing in 
Graham's exclusively. The next year Lowell wrote to 
a friend from Philadelphia, where he was living — even 
if very simply — chiefly on his contributions to the maga- 


zine : " Graham has grown fat, an evidence of his suc- 
cess. He lives in one of the finest houses in Arch Street 
and keeps his own carriage." By the latter part of 1848, 
however, scarcely one of the well-known names advertised 
on the title-page as the principal contributors appeared 
within — although the list still included very respectable 
names and Poe was contributing monthly " Marginalia." 
George Graham announced during the year that a series 
of misfortunes had deprived him of any proprietary 
interest, and that the present publishers had treated him 
liberally : 

From two not very profitable magazines, Graham's sprung at 
once into boundless popularity and circulation. Had I not in 
an evil hour forgotten my own true interests and devoted that 
capital and interest to another interest, which should have been 
exclusively confined to this magazine, I should to-day not be 
writing this notice. What a daring enterprise in business can 
do, I have already shown in Graham's and the North American 
(a newspaper). And, alas! I have also shown what folly can 
do, when business is forgotten. But I can yet show the world 
that he who started life with but eight dollars in his pocket and 
has run such a career as mine is hard to be put down. 

It was announced that year that Bayard Taylor would 
assist in the editorial department. This youngster had 
written in 1843 that his highest ambition was to appear 
in Graham's. Now, five years afterward, one of the new 
owners went over to New York to propose that he manage 
the magazine. Taylor regarded the opportunity as an 
exceptionally fine one : " He offers me the situation at 
a thousand a year, promise of increase in a year or two, 
and perfect liberty to write for any other periodical. I 
will have a fine office to myself, and the work will only 
occupy three to four hours daily. I have consulted with 
Greeley and Willis, who advise me to go." He was also 
to write an article a month, receiving extra pay for it. 
" How shall I leave this mighty city of New York? " he 
wrote to another friend. " Philadelphia is merely an 
immense provincial town; here is the metropolis of a 
continent." He need not have worried, however, as the 


involved business affairs of the magazine were so ar- 
ranged in the end that he became editor in name only, 
and, an absentee, merely contributed a little more fre- 
quently. In 185 1 Graham regained control of the maga- 
zine, and before the end of the year thanked his friends 
for rallying to him and allowing him to guide his shat- 
tered bark into harbour once more. But in spite of as- 
surances of great increases in subscriptions, there were 
decided evidences of scrimping. The brisk editorial tone 
of former days was much reinforced. About 1852 the 
department Small Talk became not only prominent by 
elongation, but by the adoption of a lively button-holing 
style of casual comment on things in general and the 
excellence of Graham's in particular that seems startlingly 
modern. Thus ever, in the magazine world, voices 
heighten as they take their flight ! 

Graham's and Godey's are linked f orevermore by Haw- 
thorne in the House of Seven Gables. Here he mentions 
them as if they were the two principal magazines of 
America. Contemporary estimation linked them also in 
blame as well as praise. Briggs wrote Lowell that he 
had always misunderstood Poe, " from thinking him one 
of the Graham and Godey species." Readers thought 
of them together, because of their similar run on steel 
engravings and fashion-plates. And last — but not least 
— writers bracketted them in red letters as sure and good 
pay. When Willis was about to start a magazine of his 
own he wrote : 

Adieu to the third sign of the Zodiac ! Adieu, O Gemini ! 
Adieu, Godey and Graham! Most liberal of paymasters, most 
gentle of taskmasters, pashaws of innumerable tales, adieu ! 
Pleasant has been our correspondence ! Pleasant the occasional 
meetings in your city of Phil-gemini, Phil-Graham and Godey. 
Adieu to our captivity in magazine land. The messenger which 
you sent us that it was time to write was not more punctual 
than the golden echo to our compliance. We may look back 
from the land of promise, as the Israelites hankered after the 
flesh-pots of Egypt — but we shall return no more ! Cling to 


our hand at parting, and wish us well on our own-hooktivity. 
We leave you reluctantly. 

But, alas! inseparable in life, in deaths they were very 
much divided. Long, long after Graham's had breathed 
its last did the most successful of Philadelphia magazines 
continue to boast " the greatest circulation in the world." 
In the attic of what boy and girl was there not a pile of 
old Godey'sf Into what wondering eyes now grown dim 
with age did not the hydrocephalic and high-lighted heads 
which spattered its raven-black steel engravings spring, 
as though they would leap from the page ? Who has not 
shaped his childish dream of high romance out of its 
wooden-limbed cavaliers and its swan-necked ladies 
dripping with draperies? Well might Godey, whose 
voice was hoarse proclaiming his own modesty, style 
himself a national institution. Begun in 1830, it united 
in 1837 with the decorous Ladies' Magazine of Boston, 
which had started two years earlier; and the editor of 
that periodical, Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, moved south- 
ward with the editorial chair. 

She was amply worth the transportation. Continuing 
for forty years the editor of the literary department, she 
advocated the higher education of women and other re- 
forms, yet shocked no mater familias by her tactful pro- 
gressiveness. Writer of plays and cook-books; mother 
alike of Thanksgiving Day and Mary's Little Lamb; one 
foot on land as completer of the Bunker Hill monument 
and one on sea as founder of the Seamen's Aid Society ; 
to one thing was she constant her whole life long — to 
render the Lady's Book " the guiding star of female 
education, the beacon-light of refined taste, pure morals, 
and practical wisdom." Assisted in the beginning by 
"the good and gifted Mrs. Sigourney," she saw to it 
that nothing having the slightest appearance of indelicacy 
was ever admitted to these pages. Every month she 
contributed a moral sentimental essay on the duties and 
the privileges of the sex, quite admirable in its genre and 


for its age — Victorian in its accents, yet progressive 
and human in its spirit. Her publisher announced that 
she had shone in every species of writing, and all dis- 
tinguished by the chastity, morality and sympathy v^hich 
she had put into them. There never lived a more ideal 
president of a Mother's Congress. In i860 Godey an- 
nounced : " We do not publish a mere story-book. We 
seek to enlighten and instruct v^omankind. Mothers take 
it for their daughters, v^hose mothers took it for them. 
It is an heirloom in families. If mere stories are w^ant- 
ing, outraging Munchausen, you must subscribe to some 
other publication. Those articles of fiction we do publish 
have all a moral tendency, and won't suit the readers of 
The Ensanguined Dagger, The Perils of a Housemaid or 
The Benevolent Pirate of the Gulf." 

Moral tendency they had, indeed — according to the 
Victorian definition. Happiness ever awaited virtue, and 
though heaviness might endure for a night, joy came with 
the milkman. Already a changed taste was appearing 
when, in i860, Howells wrote of their incredible insipid- 
ity. Dear Mrs. Hale, what would she have thought had 
she lived to see not only taste change, but morality also ! 
Judge of her consternation had the sad fate awaited her 
which came two decades later to the mother of that 
sweet child Elsie Dinsmore — who lived to hear her off- 
spring termed an of^cious brat hurling her golden texts 
in a very orgy of exhibitionism at every handy passer-by. 
Blessed are the dead who die in time ! 

Mrs. Hale took the literary control and managed her 
editorial department. There were other departments 
besides — Arm Chair, Literary Notices, Centre-Table 
Gossip, Health, and Fashions. " How often must we 
say that Mrs. Hale is not the Fashion Editor," the Arm 
Chair was frequently scolding. The Fashion Editor took 
orders for making the hair of loved ones into beautiful 
bracelets and pins ; and she would buy bonnets and man- 
tillas for you, and even hinted at more extensive shopping 
on certain interesting occasions. As the magazine pub- 


lished instructions for drawing, it agreed to furnish for 
a small consideration the proper pencils. The " sociable 
air "of Godey's was widely commented upon. They 
printed many flattering letters from correspondents (a 
quaint custom, which might well be revived!). As early 
as 1847 there was a series of articles on Model Cottages, 
with pictures and ground plans (and what Mansard and 
Swiss horrors they were!). In 1849 they offered a 
handsome bouquet for the best essay from the pen of 
some fair correspondent on a subject which had of late 
been all-absorbing, " What Becomes of the Pins? " The 
" family air " of Godey^s might be crystallised by Mrs. 
Hale's announcement in 1846 of the death of Mr. Godey's 
mother. " The numerous readers of the Lady's Book, 
who may have regretted its delay for several months past, 
will now understand the painful nature of those duties 
which engrossed the proprietor, and their kind hearts 
will sympathise with the sorrows of an only son." Dear 
Mrs. Hale! it is difficult to picture her in anything but 
black silk, with a fall of lace at the sleeves and at the 
slightly surpliced neck — a veritable Lucy J. Hayes in 
her white sanctum. 

But while she was speaking in her soft and edifying 
accents, Godey was sounding the first strident note of 
modern magazine advertising. There are few contem- 
porary magazines which more insistently proclaim their 
own perfections. Godey had an impressive way of re- 
ferring to his magazine as The Book. He certainly 
quoted it to serve his own purpose. He was always pre- 
dicting that the next number would surpass all records, 
and admitting the succeeding month that he had guessed 
right. Perhaps the first American slogan was ** What 
Will Godey Do Next ! " It was a chanticleer call, making 
up in noise and punctuality for what it lacked in variety. 
Sometimes he juggled the notes a bit. " Why don't our 
contemporaries originate something? Why always fol- 
low in our track ? " The charge was always being sub- 
stantiated by something like this, in 1845 : " When we 


adopted, some two years since, the wave rule around and 
through our page, the pages of every magazine in the 
country were thus altered immediately. Indeed, a maga- 
zine in a neighbouring city copied our pages so exact 
that we would defy any person to tell the difference be- 
tween the two, excepting in the reading matter. And, 
lo ! the London World of Fashion has also appeared in our 
late dress. Worse than this, a respectable five-dollar 
magazine (Godey's was three dollars, or two for five 
dollars, or five for ten dollars, or eight for fifteen dol- 
lars) copies on its cover the announcement for 1845, only 
altering the title and price of the work ! " Said Godey 
proudly in 1839: 

You will find in no English magazine such a store of entertain- 
ment. We were the first to introduce the system of calling forth 
the slumbering talent of our country by offering an equivalent 
for the efforts of genius. Our subscription list now doubles the 
list of any other magazine in America. A few years ago the 
Lady's Book had not an original article in its columns, with but 
eight steel plates per annum and four plates of fashion on cop- 
per; now it is entirely original and includes the first names of 
the day, and its embellishments surpass any other magazine of 
double the price. Nor must our readers suppose we have ex- 
hausted our stock of contributions from our lady writers. All 
accounts not settled during the year will be taxed an additional 
fifty cents at the end of it. If we must wait, we must be paid 
for it. By Jupiter, this shall not be revoked! 

You cannot imagine Mrs. Hale saying " by Jupiter." 
Nor can you imagine her gentle heart otherwise than 
grieving over a series of very unladylike critiques by 
Poe, which must have rejoiced the stomach of Godey. 
So great was the demand for the first instalment of the 
Literati of New York that they reprinted it in the next 
number. Poe was at that time running on a shoestring 
the Broadway Journal, and he had many scores to settle. 
The series involved the Lady's Book in some very unlady- 
like proceedings. Dr. Thomas Dunn English resented 
Poe's attack on him, and retaliated with a statement in 
the New York Mirror. Poe dipped his pen in the prussic 



acid which Lowell said often served him for ink and 
indicted a rejoinder. This even the shrewd and com- 
mercial Gcdey refused to print; and all of Mrs. Hale's 
laces must have sighed with relief as she sat down at her 
desk to breathe her monthly message of peace and love. 
Mrs. Hale adhered to the time-honoured custom of 
announcing accepted contributions; and she requested 
contributors to keep copies, as she could not undertake 
to send back rejected articles. "If the writers do not 
find their contributions noticed within three months, they 
are rejected." At other times would come this significant 
notice. " We have been looking over our collection of 
original poetry. Some of these articles have been on 
hand so long that their authors may have forgotten them 
or given them to some other publications. We hope the 
latter." Therefore, the following announcement may 
not come as a surprise : " We want it distinctly under- 
stood that, unless by previous understanding to that effect, 
no articles published in this magazine will be paid for. 
Young writers and those who have not acquired a literary 
reputation must remember that the mere insertion of their 
articles in the Lady's Book is quite a compensation in 
itself. It is useless for them to ask what price we pay; 
it would be better to ask if we will insert their produc- 
tions." Yet the funeral-baked meats of these youthful 
rejected writers were sliced up at will to furnish forth 
the Editor's Table. Mrs. Hale, like most editors of the 
time, coolly carved out the good morsels to garnish her 
own feast. In fact, the Table seems to have been devised 
in the beginning for this thrifty hash of viands, which, 
like the ^gg of the meek curate, were " excellent in spots." 
It must have given the verdant authors a peculiar mixture 
of exasperation and solace to behold themselves thus 
willy-nilly minced up into a salad. The extensive prac- 
tice affords an excellent illustration of the papal editorial 
attitude of the early days — an attitude not entirely with- 
out its influence over our own. After all, these times 
were not so long ago; and United States congressmen 


and publishers were not the only ones who had confused 
notions of literary property. Authors themselves seemed 
to be genuinely surprised when an editor — as a New 
York paper said pointedly of one who had gone into 
bankruptcy through his '' generosity " — paid for some- 
thing he could get for nothing. It is amusing to see 
magazines which confessedly remunerated only their 
prominent contributors constantly trumpeting their open- 
handedness. And when, as with the Lady's Book, they 
found it profitable to exploit women's work, their blasts 
might have aroused sleeping chivalry itself, secure within 
its Dark Tower. 

" I sometimes think," said the Editor's Table in 1842, 
" that the Lady's Book owes much of its unparalleled 
success to the blessings which the poor of our sex who 
are benefited by its publication are constantly calling 
down upon it. Not to reckon the host of female writers, 
who are promptly paid, there are, besides, more than one 
hundred females who depend for their daily bread on 
the money they receive from colouring the plates of 
fashions, stitching, doing up the work, and so on." And 
again : " We were the first to bring the happiest produc- 
tions of the female mind home to the myriad of firesides. 
This January number is entirely the production of lady 
writers, and with the exception of the poem of the cele- 
brated Miss Joanna Baillie, from the pens of American 
ladies." They got out a number of this sort frequently. 
The signed contributors were of that forgotten galaxy 
of ladies — Mrs. Embury, Mrs. Seba Smith, Mrs. Ellet, 
Mrs. Osgood — whose sentimental voices were sometimes 
raised shrilly at each other, and whose little hands occa- 
sionally sought to tear out each other's eyes. The literary 
harem was maintained on very limited rations ; and think 
of all the apprentice female pens rhyming and essaying 
for nothing, awaiting their chance to squeeze in and de- 
mand their share of the crumbs that fell from the master's 
table. It behooved the fortunate inmates to watch each 
other narrowly for indications of waning charms. 



"I AM satisfied," wrote Benjamin Rush in 1799, "the 
ratio of intellect is as twenty to one and of knowledge 
one hundred to one, in these States compared with what 
they were before the American Revolution/' This was 
the year that Charles Brockden Brown thought both were 
ripe enough to create in New York City a demand for a 
purely literary journal. .The Monthly Magazine and 
American Review had been a long-cherished plan. It 
languished and dwindled until in 1801 it was rebaptised 
into a momentary resuscitation, the American Review 
and Literary Journal. 

Juliet might persuade herself there was nothing in a 
name, but the proprietors of American magazines — like 
the proprietors of American theatres — seem always to 
have reasoned differently. Since the beginning they have 
sought to hoodwink their hoodo, in the manner of the 
landlord who hoped to lay his unprofitable ghost by 
putting up another sign on his inn. In Brown's case, 
as in all similar shifts in the magazine world, the expedi- 
ent proved unsuccessful. A magazine that changes its 
name in hopes of bettering its condition should remember 
the old counsel to brides, and change the letter also. As 
long as this remained the same, there was no sufficient 
public for Brown's magazine. At the century's very be- 
ginning, and in New York City, neither intellect nor 
knowledge was present in sufficient quantity to support 
a periodical consisting entirely of reviews, reports of 
foreign works, and a literary journal. It was just an- 
other one of those magnificent and foolish undertakings 
of which we have seen so many ; " yet by the bones about 
the wayside we have come into our own. " 



The " vision '* of the pioneer, Brown shared with the 
rest; and he stated it in a dignified announcement free 
from verbiage and the already stereotyped diplomacies 
of the trade : 

The American people are perhaps more distinguished than 
those of Europe by an universal attention to the active and 
lucrative pursuits of life. This habit has grown out of the ne- 
cessities of their situation. Some European critics hold our 
pretensions in contempt, and many among ourselves seem in- 
clined to degrade our countrymen below the common level. It 
is only the gradual influence of time that will generate and con- 
tinue a race of artists and authors purely indigenous and who 
may vie with those of Europe. This period is, probably, at no 
great distance; and no means seem better calculated to hasten 
so desirable an event than those of literary repositories. It is 
from the want of a clear and comprehensive survey of our 
literary products that we are in a great measure to ascribe the 
censures of foreign cities. The plan of a Review, so new in 
America, has had many prejudices and obstacles to surmount. 
It was thought that young American writers would not bear 
criticism and must be treated with peculiar indulgence. Experi- 
ence has proved this objection to be without foundation. How 
far those who have executed the department of criticism are 
qualified for the undertaking, the public have it in their power 
to decide. Their purpose has been not so much to exhibit their 
own opinions as the spirit and the manner of the author. It is 
not probable that any individual can be found who with the 
requisite ability and inclination has leisure and perseverance 
enough, successfully to conduct a work of this kind. Depend- 
ing then as it must do on persons of various pursuits and differ- 
ent political sentiments, it is not surprising that occasional dif- 
ference of opinion should appear. Original essays we confi- 
dently hope for, but no promises are given. 

In the last-mentioned hope, as in all the others, he 
was destined to disappointment. He had been obliged 
to furnish almost the entire contents of the earlier maga- 
zine ; it was the same with this and with its successor, the 
Literary Magazine and American Register, established 
in Philadelphia in 1803. This third of his gallant, pre- 
mature endeavours struck, in the more intellectual soil 
of the latter city, roots hardly sufificient to suck up a five 
years' subsistence. But even there he ran his engine at 


one-man power. In 1804 he wrote to his brother: 
" You will find but a single communication in this num- 
ber — all the rest of the original prose I have been obliged 
to supply myself, for which I am sorry, for the sake of 
the credit of the work as well as of my own ease. The 
whole original department of July I have been obliged 
to spin out of my own brain. You will probably find 
it, of consequence, very dull.'* 

A letter he had written his brother from New York in 
1800 mentions other difificulties. " Yesterday the due 
number of copies of number three of the magazine was 
put on board the stage for your city, where I hope they 
have seasonably arrived. This once the printers have 
been tolerably punctual and hereafter I have reason to 
think they will be regular. Book-making, as you observe, 
is the dullest of trades, and the utmost that any American 
can look for in his native country is to be reimbursed for 
his unavoidable expenses. The salability of my works 
will much depend upon their popularity in England." 
Perhaps he would have lost faith in his vision if he could 
have foreseen that a half century later his chief successor 
in New York would still be fighting desperately — to fall 
at last — the same foe, if under a new face. Said the 
Knickerbocker in an article on Leland in 1856: " Apart 
from the editors of newspapers, where shall we find a 
body of men, however innumerous, who can earn their 
daily bread by their pen alone? We are filled with 
shame and indignation at the legislative stupidity which 
offers a few miserable types of American professional 
litterateur as victims to the niggardly reprinting of a 
rival literature." The main situation had not altered 
much, even if a book could count upon wider distribu- 
tion than in the eleven cities where Brown had agents. 
" As collection of small sums is difficult and expensive, 
those who reside at a distance from Boston, Hartford, 
New Haven, Albany, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond, 
Alexandria, Norfolk, Charleston, and Savannah, where 
numbers are sold, will kindly designate some person in 


their town as agent to receive and pay for their copies.'* 
This difficulty and others caused Brown to turn his maga- 
zine into a quarterly at fifty cents a number. " The thin 
population of the United States renders it impossible to 
procure sufficient support from any one city, and the 
dispersed situation of readers, the embarrassments attend- 
ing the diffusion of copies over a wide extent of country, 
and the obstacles to a prompt collection of the small sums 
which so cheap a publication demanded, are, it is pre- 
sumed, satisfactory reasons for altering the publication 
so as to diminish these inconveniences." 

In spite of all shifts, however, his thoroughly creditable 
and well-arranged review went down. There was not 
enough public for its purely intellectual appeal. All 
European travellers of the period agreed that Americans 
were inordinately devoted to making money, and the 
Scotch Mackenzie said that the descendants of the Dutch 
particularly were avaricious. Those people in New York, 
too, that might have had leisure and inclination to improve 
their minds, spent all their time out of the counting-house 
in social pleasures. The little Dutch town, said Felix de 
Beaujour, was the only one in America which had a really 
continental quality — the others were English or West 
Indian. Close-fisted these Dutchmen might be, but they 
were very fond of gaieties; and very hospitable in enter- 
tainment at their own homes. A resident of Philadelphia 
remarked in 1806 that there were fewer taverns fre- 
quented by the genteel than in his own city, and strangers 
received far more attention. Most of the energy which 
cultivated New Yorkers could spare from business went 
out in maintaining a round of social pleasures, strictly 
after business hours. The only people who cared about 
reading, they naturally seized eagerly upon a kind which, 
so far from taking time from their social pursuits, added 
a zest to them. Rarely has a more delightful morning 
dawned in a gay, gossipy little world than January 24, 
1807, when the first number of Salmagundi appeared. 

"It's object," wrote Paulding, "was to ridicule the 


follies and foibles of the fashionable world. Though we 
had not anticipated anything beyond a local circulation, 
the work extended throughout the United States and 
acquired great popularity. It was, I believe, the first of 
its kind in the country ; produced numerous smaller pub- 
lications, none of which, however, extended beyond a 
few numbers; and formed somewhat of an era in our 
literature. It reached two volumes, and we could have 
continued it indefinitely; but the publisher, with that 
liberality so characteristic of these modern Maecenases, 
declined to concede to us a share of the profits, which had 
become considerable.'' Yet it seems to have been dis- 
tinctly understood in the beginning that Longworth, the 
publisher, in assuming all the risks, would assume the 
profits also. " We have nothing to do with the pecuniary 
concerns of this paper," ran the editorial announcement 
in the first number ; " its success will yield us neither 
pride nor profit, nor will its failure occasion to us either 
loss or mortification." The authors, indeed, could not 
have calculated on the paper's doing more than pay ex- 
penses — well-nigh universal experience would have 
taught them to expect even less. When Longworth sug- 
gested, fairly enough, that they take out a copyright, 
they had answered that it was not worth while. Conse- 
quently Longworth was quite within his rights when, 
having taken it out himself in addition to the initial risk, 
he refused to share his profits with them. But he seems 
at least to have begun to do so, for the three authors 
received from him one hundred dollars apiece. It may 
well be that as they saw the profits unexpectedly mounting 
up, they took an attitude which the publisher felt some 
justification in resenting. The immediate cause of their 
abrupt retirement on the twentieth number was his ad- 
vancing the price to one shilling. Paulding calculated 
that he and Irving had enriched their publisher by ten 
thousand dollars when the copyright expired in 1822. 

The success of Salmagundi at the time was quite enough 
to turn the head of any publisher who had in the teeth of 


experience handsomely undertaken to assume all risks, 
and of authors who flew afterward on fire to hear such 
rich reprisals were so nigh and yet not theirs. Eight 
hundred copies of the fourth issue sold on the day of 
publication in a town of eighty thousand inhabitants was 
electrifying. At first it was to have been published — 
like the Philistine almost a century later — " every once 
in a while," but in the first flush of triumph it became 
a weekly. Though it moderated its pace later, it con- 
tinued to show all competitors Atalanta's heels — espe- 
cially its " next-door neighbour, Town," which soon 
dropped out of the running. The waggish impertinence, 
buoyant and bland, of the mysterious trio, Launcelot 
Langstaff, Anthony Evergreen, and William Wizard, 
decidedly caught on. It was a new thing for authors to 
take themselves so lightly (their levity possibly being 
occasioned by the comforting knowledge that Longworth 
was footing the bills). " The paper on which this work 
will be printed is that held in highest estimation by young 
ladies for buckling up their hair," read the announcement. 
Imitations, as Paulding said, shot up everywhere. 
Though most of them withered overnight, the neat droll- 
eries of the original remained for a long while the 
aspiration of every young writer. Why not, indeed, 
since Irving was the only American who had as yet cap- 
tured the coveted London approbation ? " We had a 
Dennie," said the Philadelphia Critic censoriously in 1820, 
" yet his classical elegance has not availed to preserve 
his countrymen from being intoxicated by the quaintness 
and affectation of the Salmagundi school." But Beatrice 
Ironside, the sprightly editress of the Baltimore Observer, 
snapped her fingers at the earlier Addisonian tradition 
of Dennie with as much delight as the rest of her country- 
men. The modified type was more suitable to the cen- 
tury. " Although our city readers have most probably 
generally seen Salmagundi/* she wrote, " yet we cannot 
forbear extracting the following ludicrous and admirable 
description. We were almost apprehensive that the wit 


which sparkled with such continual brilliancy in the first 
numbers would have too soon wasted fire, but we are 
delighted to find the fifth number even perhaps surpasses 
those which preceded it, and that the genius and satirical 
talents of the facetious editors appear to be as inexhausti- 
ble as the subjects which call them forth/' 

In 1 8 19 Paulding made an attempt to resuscitate Sal- 
magundi while Irving was in Europe. A letter to him 
in 1820 tells the story. 

Hearing last winter that you had finally declined coming 
home and finding my leisure time a little heavy, I set to work 
and prepared several numbers of a continuation of our old joint 
production. At that time and subsequently, I was entirely ig- 
norant that you contemplated anything of the kind [in the 
Sketch Book]. But for an accidental delay, my first number 
would have got the start of yours. As it happened, however, 
it has the appearance of taking the field against you, which 
neither my head nor my heart will sanction. I believe my work 
has not done you any harm in the way of rivalship, for it has 
been soundly abused by many persons and compared with the 
first part with many degrading expressions. It has sold toler- 
ably, but I shall discontinue it shortly. 

Paulding was always disposed to rate their youthful 
venture much higher than did Irving. " I know you 
consider old Sal as a sort of saucy flippant trollope not 
worth fathering," he wrote. Saucy she might well be — 
the only American magazine who retired with flags flying 
in the very midst of her triumphs. Had Father Knicker- 
bocker, who came along twenty-five years later, taken 
her breezy tip, his voyage would have been more graceful. 

" The dapper little town of the Dutch days," said the 
Knickerbocker making its opening speech, " has bloated 
into the big metropolis. The object of our magazine is 
to represent life and letters as existing here, not to 
assume their regulation. In literature, young, fresh, and 
unhackneyed as Americafis are, we are already, by some 
strange fatuity, grievously given to twaddle." About 
ten years before Bryant had written the same thing to 
Dana concerning his magazine, the Review and Athe- 


nceum. " It is true, as you say, that there is a want of 
literary entertainment in our journal. But as to the 
multitude of clever men here who might furnish it, let me 
say that we have some clever men here, to be sure, but 
they are naughtily given to instructing the world, to eluci- 
dating political economy and jurisprudence, etc. They 
seem to think it a sort of disgrace to be entertaining. 
Since the time of Salmagundi the city has grown exceed- 
ingly grave and addicted to soHd speculations. Paulding 
sometimes writes for our magazine, and we pick up the 
rest of it as well as we can." This, then, was the ideal 
of the Knickerbocker — to avoid heavy twaddle and to 
seek to entertain, as would a courtly gentleman at his 
own table. When in 1862 it had escaped for the moment 
the many calamities that threatened bankruptcy, it per- 
mitted itself in thanking its new friends a little retro- 
spect of its honourable history. " People were ' a little 
aristocratic ' then — it was the tone. Knick held up 
its head with the best of them ; the old gentleman always 
kept good company and scorned the canaille. Well, he 
found friends in those later darkened days. It is not 
always enough to get your money's worth in mere paper 
and names. Pray remember that every magazine has its 
peculiar subtle influence. He who reads Knick breathes 
the American tone for thirty years, and renders himself 
liable of being suspected to be a gentleman through long 
habit and association." And years after it had descended 
into rest, Leland wrote endearingly in a similar strain, 
from the midst of more successful magazines of a later 
day, " There was never anything quite like the Knicker- 
bocker and there never will be again. It required a 
sunny, genial, social atmosphere, such as we had before 
the war and never after ; an easy writing of gay and culti- 
vated men for one another, and not painfully elaborating 

jocosities as in . But never mind. It sparkled 

through its summer time, and oh, how its readers loved it ! 
I sometimes think that I would like to hunt up the old 
title-plate with Diedrich Knickerbocker and his pipe, 


and issue it again every month to a few dozen subscribers 
who loved quaint odds and ends, till I too should pass 

Everything was done, from the beginning, to increase 
this atmosphere. An early number regretted that the 
important ground once occupied by the London Gentle- 
man's when it made itself the medium through which 
gentlemen of taste or science communicated with each 
other, had been abandoned by modern periodicals. It 
would always be happy to have its readers exchange 
views with each other. The Editor's Table, where it 
chatted at ease over everything in particular and nothing 
in general, was its glory. Besides this, the editor had 
gossip with readers and correspondents and remarked 
upon the various contributions. The last-named practice 
had been slowly making its way, and it won a permanent 
if equivocal place in the editorial heart. Probably no 
modern editor would care to examine the logic of it. 
Bryant had written to Dana in accepting a contribution 
for the Review and Athenceum, " You will appear in com- 
pany with Mr. Halleck. The poem entitled Marco 
Bozzaris is a very beautiful thing. Anderson was so 
delighted with it that he could not forbear adding the 
expression of his admiration at the end of the poem. I 
have my doubts whether it is not better to let the poetry 
of magazines commend itself to the reader by its own 
excellence." The Knickerbocker, though subscribers 
were always praising its Table as the chief and peculiar 
attraction, seemed never to have thought of departing 
from the fine print in which it had been the modest 
fashion to clothe editorial utterance. Possibly it typified 
the still small voice of the sleepless monitor. " So in- 
teresting a part of your magazine ought not to appear 
in such diminutive type," protested one diplomatic corre- 
spondent. Following the fashion, too, the type always 
grew smaller as the Table lengthened from month to 
month. Even the most voracious guest must have found 
twenty-six pages of well-nigh invisible print trying. But 


minute as it was, the very vanishing point was achieved 
in the monthly extracts from rejected articles. Perhaps 
this was also a symbol. Such type nowadays has taken 
its last stand, for the ordinary God-fearing citizen, in the 
franker torture-chamber of oculists. In i860 Editor's 
Table began to publish a retrospect of their contribu- 
tors. It was a war measure and the magazine was being 
starved out, but the history was one Which justified self- 
satisfaction. The extracts from their editorial corre- 
spondence, too, included all of America's well-known 
names and many English ones. Their Ollapodiana, they 
said, had proved the most popular series of papers they 
had ever published. 

These were written by Willis Clark, brother of the 
editor, upon whose death, in 1841, the Table had a four- 
page article. The announcement of his connection with 
the magazine in 1834 is an interesting item. " The edi- 
tor's labours will be shared with his brother, whose resi- 
dence in Philadelphia will oppose no obstacle to a regular 
division and execution of the duties pertaining to the 
work, the mail being so prompt as to render the connec- 
tion entirely practicable. Philadelphia correspondents, 
or of towns to the south and west of that city, will write 
to him (post-paid always)." When Poe attacked the 
Knickerbocker in 1843, he said that the only redeeming 
quality of the editor was that he was the brother of the 
late Willis Clark. The genial fertile author of Ollapo- 
diana, indeed, exactly realised Bryant's ideal of a maga- 
zine man. " I suspect we shall be sorely tried to get 
matter for the miscellaneous department," he had written 
Dana in 1826 on launching his magazine. " A talent for 
such articles is quite rare in this country, and particu- 
larly in this city. There are many who can give grave, 
sensible discussions on subjects of general utility, but 
few who can write an interesting or diverting article for 
miscellany." It is amusing to recall that New York 
once confessed that it had to go to Philadelphia for the 
light, gay chatter which should keep people awake. 


A very brilliant start had the magazine, but its able 
inaugurator gave up the editorship in less than a year on 
account of failing health. To him and his successor 
Poe thus paid his respects in his article, the New York 
Literati. " Mr. Charles Fenno Hoffman was the origi- 
nal editor of the Knickerbocker, and gave it while under 
his control a tone and character the weight of which may 
be best estimated by the consideration that the work re- 
ceived an impetus which has enabled it to bear on alive, 
though tottering, month after month, under Mr. Lewis 
Gaylord Clark. He subsequently owned and edited the 
American Monthly, one of the best journals we have 
ever had; and for a year conducted the New York 
Mirror/' Nevertheless, in spite of Poe's animosity, 
Clark conducted the tottering steps of the magazine for 
twenty years and for about half that time at least gave 
it a success undreamed of by its earlier editor. " By all 
means cultivate the Knickerbocker/' wrote Bridge to 
Hawthorne, seeking to find an opening. " For one's 
name to appear there is an introduction.'* A young 
writer, however, effected an introduction to the reader 
far less readily than to the editor. For some time 
his articles seem to have been modestly signed " By 
a New Contributor." For the most part, only the 
better-known names appeared. These immediately gave 
the magazine prestige. On the financial side, the num- 
ber of copies had by the middle of the third year 
grown from five hundred to over four thousand. " With 
proper encouragement American periodicals will soon sur- 
pass those of England," the editor permitted himself to 
remark in 1837, surveying his increasing success. Sev- 
eral obstacles lay in the way, however. The chief was 
that old bogey, the unpaid subscription. " Instead of 
purchasing our magazines as in England," the dying 
Port Folio had said bitterly in 1820, " we subscribe for 
them." Knickerbocker had, in the past two years alone, 
lost over five thousand dollars. Appealing in 1837 to 
delinquent subscribers, it begged to point out that maga- 


zines, unlike newspapers, had little or no advertising to 
help defray expenses. One hundred and seven voluntary 
subscriptions had come in last month, they recorded 
proudly; but the editor could not have failed to reflect 
that subscribers often dodged the main issue. Again, 
the business management of the magazine sometimes did 
not keep faith. After Knickerbocker had begun under 
the most flattering auspices, the unprincipled manage- 
ment of the original proprietor soon disgusted the public ; 
and the new proprietor had slowly to win back their 
confidence again. Agents,- too, swindled both public and 
management. As with Graham's and Godey's, there was 
the increasing complaint on the part of distant sub- 
scribers that their numbers reached them late in the 
month, and after they had read the best articles in the 
journals. Early in 1840, they would try the plan of 
mailing every copy, the most distant first, before the first 
day of the month, on which day they would promptly 
serve their city readers. The plan seems to have been 
unsuccessful in frustrating the newspapers, however, and 
at the close of 1840 they announced that they would 
secure for their articles the protection of copyright. 

The easy appropriation of their articles by foreign 
prints was by no means so exasperating. After all, to 
have become successful enough to be black-mailed has 
been a fortifying reflection to many a self-made man; 
and a grievance which can be profitably aired has de- 
cidedly good points. It was impressive to be able to 
complain each month that an article of the month before 
had been lifted in England, even without acknowledg- 
ment or " with numerous mutilations and interpolations 
suitable to the meridian of London." In 1836 is re- 
corded with a complacent purr that no less than nine 
distinct articles of theirs, each inserted as original, had 
appeared in one number of the London Ladies' Cabinet 
of Fashion; in 1840 " Old Knick is growing cosmopoli- 
tan — several of our articles have appeared in French 
and German magazines." The year before there had 



been much swagger in their fine scorn of Bentley's when 
it announced that '* arrangements had been made for the 
appearance of the Crayon Papers simuhaneously with 
their appearance in the United States." Bentley's, of 
course, had done nothing of the sort, but what would 
you? — success had its penalties and poor Bentley's its 

Knick had been very proud of capturing Irving at last. 
At the close of its first year, it had regretted that the 
illustrious editor of Knickerbocker's History had not 
honoured the magazine, the name of which was the 
greatest compliment America had ever paid to his genius. 
It was in March, 1839, that Irving engaged to contribute 
monthly to its pages, for two thousand dollars a year in 
stated instalments, " I am tired of writing volumes," he 
said as he made his bow. " They do not afford exactly 
the relief I require as I grow old. I have thought there- 
fore of securing to myself a snug corner in some periodi- 
cal where I might loll at my ease in my elbow chair and 
chat sociably on any chance subject that might pop into 
my brain." The task of writing every month proved 
irksome to him, however, and — says Pierre Irving — 
the returns were less prompt than he had anticipated. 
But his good will to the magazine and to Lewis Clark 
induced him to continue his connection for two years. 

In 1843 Poe ran amuck among the magazines in a style 
which was amazing even for him. He printed in the 
New World of March eleventh an article which Knicker- 
bocker announced the following month it had rejected. 
It seems likely, says Griswold caustically, that he had 
subsequently somewhat altered his remarks upon that 
magazine, as he could scarcely have expected them to 
assert that their own glory had forever departed and that 
the principal cause of its melancholy decline might be 
traced to its peculiar and unappreciated editor, Lewis 
Clark. " The present condition of this periodical is 
that of a poorly cooked-up concern, a huge, handsome- 
looking body, but without a soul. The sooner it dies the 


better it will be for the proprietors ; but if they will secure 
an able and efficient editor, we doubt not that it might be 
placed in the noble station it once occupied. Neither do 
we like the nominal editor of Graham's Magazine. A 
pretty good compiler, he possesses too many of the 
peculiar characteristics of Mr. Lewis Clark. He is 
wholly unfit, either by intellect or character, to occupy 
the editorial chair." 

In 1862 the magazine announced that it had passed 
unto a new proprietor. It confessed to the public that 
it had many times been in sore straits. " Sooth to say, 
friends, it would have been little to the credit of America 
if a periodical which had been made glorious at one time 
or another by all the great writers of America, and' ever 
maintained a high-toned, refined and moral standard, so 
that it was emphatically the magazine for a gentleman, 
should die for want of friends." Later in the same year 
it asserted that immediately after the change the circula- 
tion had nearly trebled, in consequence of the fresh array 
of talent attracted to it, notwithstanding the severe pres- 
sure of the times. Of this change Leland wrote in 1861 
in his memoirs : " The old Knickerbocker had been for 
a long time running down to absolutely nothing. Its 
new purchaser endeavoured to galvanise it into life. Its 
sober grey-blue cover was changed to orange. Mr. Clark 
left it to my sorrow; but there was no help for it, for 
there was not a penny to pay him. [Clark had received 
a salary and divided the profits as joint-proprietor.] I 
consented to edit it, for I had an idea. This was to make 
it promptly a strong Republican monthly, which was 
utterly opposed to all of Mr. Clark's ideas. The financial 
depression in the North at this time was terrible. I 
prophesied editorially a prosperity close at hand such 
as no one ever dreamed of, and I advocated emancipation 
of slaves as a war measure only and without any regard 
to philanthropy. As publishing such views in the Knick- 
erbocker was like pouring the wildest of new wine into the 
weakest of old bottles, the proprietor resolved at once to 


establish in Boston a political monthly to be called the 
Continental, to be devoted to this view of the situation. 
It was the only political magazine devoted to the Repub- 
lican cause published during the war. It was often said 
that its bold course hastened by several months the 
emancipation of the slaves by Abraham Lincoln." 

" There is always a warmth of feeling awakened when 
we look upon its neat lilac cover," had said the United 
States Gazette in 1845. One may imagine Knick turning 
orange for very shame to be thus ungenteelly hustled 
into the turmoil of the street. The old gentleman leaning 
upon his stick in the comfortable Dutch chair was 
fashioned for looking out of the window with the eyes 
of a contemplative philosopher. To make him an active 
politician was something like turning Colonel Carter into 
a ward heeler. " The time is past in this town," had 
said Philip Hone, another representative of Knicker- 
bocker culture two decades before, " when a gentleman 
can afford to run for mayor." With Knick, the political 
career thus thrust upon him in his over-ripe old age, 
meant his speedy departure from the world. But even in 
dying he managed a graceful appearance. His name and 
the familiar vignette remained for some months after 
1864 upon the title page of the American Monthly, and 
so he slipped unperceived from a rough world which no 
longer held to the ancient ideals. 

That Poe should have written an article discussing in 
such a tone the leading magazines of the day; that he 
should insert therein an attack upon the editor who had 
just rejected it; that any periodical should have been 
willing to publish it — each is a glimpse into the editorial 
urbanities of the time. The press was generally held to 
be a legitimate vehicle for the venting of personal spite. 
Another glimpse into the manners and morals of the New 
York printing world is afforded in Leland's memoirs. 

Frank Leslie, who had been with me on Barnum's, was now 
(i860) publishing half a dozen periodicals and newspapers, and 
offered me a fair price to give him my mornings. There was 


much rather shady, shaky Bohemianism about the frequenters 
of our sanctum. When the war broke out and Frank LesUe 
found that he no longer required my services, he paid my due, 
which was far in arrears, in his usual manner — that is, by 
orders on advertisers for goods which I did not want and for 
which I was charged double prices. Alexander Cummings had 
a very ingenious method of " shaving," when obliged to pay his 
debts. His friend, Simon Cameron, had a bank — the Middle- 
ton — which if not a very wild cat was far from being tame, as 
its notes were always five or ten per cent, below par, to our 
loss — for we were always paid in Middleton. I have often 
known the clerk to take a handful of notes at par and send out 
to buy Middleton wherewith to pay me. I am sorry to say 
that such tricks were universal among the very great majority 
of proprietors with whom I had dealings. To " do " the em- 
ployes to the utmost was considered a matter of course, espe- 
cially when the one employed was a " literary fellow " of any 
kind or an artist. . . . Heaven knows I worked hard enough on 
Barnum's Illustrated News, and, what was a great deal to boast 
of in those days, never profited one cent beyond free tickets to 
plays, which I had little time to use. I had great temptations 
to write up certain speculative enterprises and never accepted 
one. My pay was simply despicably small [he was the sole 
literary editor], and there were editors in New York who for 
less work earned ten times my salary. When I returned to 
Philadelphia after my year in New York I had become familiar- 
ised with characteristic phases of American life and manners; 
but my father thought I had gone through a severe mill with 
rather doubtful characters. 

But aside from these time-honoured accompaniments 
of the business side of the production of literature, there 
were spiritual by-products no less inevitable to a literary 
factory. The journalistic world of New York had begun 
to dig a wide gulf between itself and the Boeotian cities 
of Philadelphia and Boston. How else should it read 
its title clear? Fired by tales of returning sojourners 
in London and Paris, the town had learned what goes to 
the making of a metropolis. For a metropolis two items 
were indispensable — Bohemia within and " provinces '* 
without. When duty whispered low thou must, the youth 
replied I can. Blushing for its callowness, it set about 
the job forthwith. It swaggered and posed and thought 
itself as devilish as any sophomore that ever coaxed a 


moustache. Its sedulous Bohemianism of the cellarage 
variety shocked or bored the youthful immigrants from 
soberer North and West hastening for draughts from the 
fountain-head. There were several dashing strangers to 
set the pace for the home talent. " Frank Forester " 
was one of them — an Englishman compact of natural 
and cultivated eccentricities, author of picturesque histori- 
cal novels very successful in their day, and editor of the 
American Monthly. He suited his action to his word 
in a manner that was satis fyingly typical — especially 
when he committed suicide at a banquet he had spread 
for his friends. This was not that American Monthly 
(by no means first or last of the name) which the young 
Park Benjamin had come from Boston to edit, bursting 
from the cocoon of the New England magazine. After a 
five-years career — during which the editor had estab- 
lished his metropolitanism by adopting the cut and thrust 
of Poe's critical tactics — it had been gathered to its 
fathers in 1838, long before the Knickerbocker dreamt of 
reincarnating under its title. Poor Knick! All uncon- 
scious of the irony its latter end would afford the remark, 
it had dismissed its younger rival with a courtly word of 
valedictory. " We regretted when it mingled politics with 
literature. It is in vain to wed the two in this country — 
a divorce is sure to succeed." 

Scarcely less than Bohemianism,* however, did cockney- 
ism prove congenial to the taste of the New York literati. 
After all, the higher halo of a metropolis is its circlet of 
"provinces." While Boston was quietly annexing all 
New England, New York had begun to label the outer 
world provincial. In 1841 Knick with its kindly superior 
smile had patted the North American Review upon its 
massive back, as it quoted some paragraphs which had 
been fortunate enough to meet with approbation. " We 
take pleasure in introducing it to the public proper in con- 
tradistinction to a small but select circle of readers in Bos- 
ton and elsewhere." And of the first number of the Dial, 
it remarked indulgently: ** There are good thoughts 


here, but they are smothered in words, words. * If your 
meats are good, what is the use of disguising them ? ' 
said a Yankee to a chef at Paris. * For my part I should 
like to know what I eat.' Four pails of water to a turnip 
does not make an edifying soup." In 1844 Maria White 
wrote to Briggs, who was starting the Broadway Journal: 
" Both James and myself feel greatly interested in your 
journal, in spite of its proposed name. James told me 
to express his horror to you at the cockneyism of such a 
title. The Broadway Chronicle chronicles the thoughts 
and feelings of Broadway, not those of the New England 
people, whom you seem willing to receive somewhat 

But in the metropolis, on Bohemians and cockneys as 
on gentlemen, there rested an unaccountable blight. New 
York could not even support her scholars, as Boston and 
Philadelphia had done. 

The shifts and turns of the Literary Review, founded 
in 1822, the first literary periodical of pronounced merit 
since Brown's day, are typical of their scrabble for a liv- 
ing. R. C. Sands was its chief contributor. In 1824 the 
Atlantic Magazine was started and he was made editor. 
An amalgamation of the two starvelings was proposed in 
1826, and the New York Review and Athencoum emerged 
from the melting pot. Bryant and Sands were the edi- 
tors and had " the co-operation of several gentlemen, 
amply qualified to furnish the departments of Intelligence, 
Poetry, and Fiction." Bryant wrote to Dana : " My 
salary is $1,000; no great sum to be sure, but it is twice 
what I got by my practice in the country. The business 
of sitting in judgment on books as they come out is not 
the literary employment most to my taste, nor that for 
which I am best fitted, but it affords me for the present 
a certain compensation, which is a matter of some conse- 
quence to a poor devil like myself." But he was counting 
his chickens before the hatching. His quarter ownership 
and his $500 a year salary never amounted to that, and 
the prospective increase in real money never arrived. 


Nor was what he had " certain." Two more magazines 
the Review absorbed in its attempt to secure a New York 
public, and then the four-in-one migrated to Boston in 
hope of food; and here in speedy oblivion the five went 
down together. " Compared with the ample dimensions 
and vivacious contents of our later periodicals," says 
Parke Godwin, " it was but a meagre and dull affair. It 
wanted distinctiveness, perhaps aggressiveness of charac- 
ter. Its disquisitions were heavy. It was no doubt as 
good as any of its contemporaries, even the North Ameri- 
can, on which it was modelled. In respect to poetry, it 
surpassed them all. Two subjects were given prominence 
in the prose department which greatly needed coddling, 
the Fine Arts and the Italian Opera." 

Sedgwick had written of the editor of the Atlantic 
Magazine: " Bliss and White, his publishers, are liberal 
gentlemen; they pay him $500 a year and authorise an 
expenditure of $500 more." A first-class magazine for 
a thousand a year! The proprietors evidently counted 
upon the editor and " communications " furnishing the 
body of each number. This could, at a pinch, have been 
counted upon for several decades to come ; and very often 
it was, whether editors were promised a salary and had 
a financial interest or not, and whether they got their 
salary when they had been promised it. The two editors 
of ArctiiniSj started in 1841, wrote almost all the early 
articles. This was the next notable attempt after 
Bryant's to make New York support a purely literary 
magazine. '^ Arcturus" wrote Lowell, " is as transcen- 
dental as Gotham can be." 

Its sub-title was a Journal of Books and Opinions, and 
it was edited by Cornelius Mathews and Evert Duyckinck. 
It died as modestly as it was born. " The late James 
Smith in one of his humorous sketches said his hero 
was accustomed to lie like the prospectus of a new maga- 
zine," said they reticently as they began. At the end 
of the first year, the publisher still assured them there 
was enough in the pouch to pay travelling expenses, but 


before another year the hopeful journey was ended. The 
magazine was an elegant one, and it left an impression 
deeper than many of much longer life. Poe agreed with 
Dana that in many respects it was decidedly the best ever 
published in this country. 

" It was on the whole too good to enjoy extensive popularity, 
although I am here using an equivocal phrase, for a better jour- 
nal might have been far more acceptable to the public. It was 
excessively tasteful, but this character applies more to its ex- 
ternal or mechanical appearance than to its essential qualities. 
Unhappily, magazines and other similar publications are in the 
beginning judged chiefly by externals. People saw Arcturus 
looking very much like other works which had failed through 
notorious dulness, although admitted as arbitri elegantiarum in 
all points of what is termed taste or decorum; and they had no 
patience to examine further. It cannot be said that it wanted 
force. It was deficient in power of expression, and this defi- 
ciency is to be attributed mainly to the exceeding brevity of its 
articles — a brevity that degenerated into mere paragraphism 
precluding dissertation or argument. The magazine had in fact 
some of the worst or most inconvenient features of a weekly 
literary newspaper. The mannerism to which I refer seems to 
have had its source in undue admiration and consequent imi- 
tation of the Spectator. 

But Duyckinck thought he saw ultimate success m the 
very item which Poe deemed responsible for its failure; 
and five years later, in 1847, he established the Literary 
World, a weekly. It lasted until 1853. E. P. Whipple 
wrote Griswold that the new journal was better than 
anything we had had before; and that it would, if it 
succeeded and cut loose from all sectional and personal 
predilections, be a valuable aid to American literature. 
William Allen Butler wrote of it after Duyckinck's death : 
'* The experience of a purely literary journal, dependent 
on its own merits and not on the patronage of a publish- 
ing house, and appealing rather to the sympathies than 
to the needs of that very small portion of the public which 
took satisfaction in a weekly presentation of the progress 
of ideas without reference to their own party politics, 
religious denomination, their craving for continuous fie- 


tlon, or their preference for woodcuts and caricatures, 
was not encouraging." 

The religious and Hterary periodical had been a very 
important early phenomenon in America. Samuel Os- 
good could not understand why such a publication, at 
least, had been unable to get a firm foothold in a com- 
munity so orthodox and theological. The Literary and 
Theological Review and the New York Review had both 
of them signally failed, while in Boston the Christian 
Disciple begun in 181 3 and becoming the Christian Exam- 
iner in 1824 had kept flying the standard of liberal schol- 
arship for a long and vital career. Possibly, he specu- 
lated, it was because Boston confided to it all new and 
debatable opinions. Certain it is that when later this 
paper based its hopes less upon liberal thought and sought 
refuge in more conventionally theological New York it 
went down after a few years' struggle in 1869. 

The strange blight seemed to rest upon magazines of 
the entire period. Not only did very promising native 
infants peak and die, but older children who had been 
fairly hardy at home lost their individuality when they 
were taken to New York and attempted to acquire 
metropolitan dash and vim — which, after all, failed to 
harden them sufficiently to thrive on a starvation diet. 
Perhaps it was in some cases a rush of Bohemianism to 
the head; perhaps in others cockneyism produced a gal- 
loping consumption. Perhaps, as Poe thought with 
Arcturus, it was Spectatorism and dry-rot. But Samuel 
Osgood thought he was pronouncing a high eulogy upon 
Duyckinck when he said that that editor clung closely 
to the old English standards of culture and went in 
stoutly for a New York school that should be a full 
match at least for the rising New England literature: 
he meant Arcturus to be the bright and particular star 
of New York culture, and New York culture was Irving 
with his modified Addison. From 181 5 to the beginning 
of the Knickerbocker in 1832 there were at least thirty 
New York magazines, not one of which even for a short 


while flourished. " For years before we started," said 
that magazine in 1833, " ^^w York had no periodical 
of any kind. Now we have four, not to mention others 
in embryo or rumour." But the second crop was like 
the first — almost all withered in metropolitan soil. 
And Philadelphia, with neither Bohemia nor provinces, 
kept chuckling to herself. 



The New York Mirror, into which Willis merged the 
Boston American Monthly, had been begun in 1823 by 
Morris and Woodworth. Samuel Woodworth is quoted 
daily by people who never heard his name, the author of 
a strain almost as familiar as Home Sweet Home. The 
lyrist of the Old Oaken Bucket had in 1812, as one of 
a " society of gentlemen," made an unsuccessful attempt 
to conduct a Swedenborgian magazine, the Halcyon 
Luminary, combining Swedenborg with polite literature. 
It may have been their song-writing that brought these 
two gentlemen together, for in 1823 Morris was a very 
handsomely paid balladist, getting fifty dollars for any 
song he wrote, cash before delivery; and it may have 
been the latter's worldliness which whirled them apart, 
for in 1825, Morris wrote Briar Cliff, a drama, for 
which he received the extraordinary sum of thirty-five 
hundred dollars. Only a year was Woodworth con- 
nected with the Mirror, and then Morris held it up to the 
town alone. For twenty years it conspicuously con- 
tributed to the literary, dramatic and artistic interests of 
New York. With all their jibing at the metropolis for 
her unsuccessful attempts in founding journals, neither 
Boston nor Philadelphia could show a literary weekly un- 
connected with a religious organisation, of anything like 
its longevity ; and its temporary failure in 1842 was owing 
not to diminished vitality but to a series of wide-spread 
financial disasters. 

It was in 1831 that Willis, disappointed in the tight 
purses of Boston culture, decided to take his dolls and 
leave home. ** The apprenticeship which he had served 



for two years in Boston," says R. H. Stoddard in his 
Recollections, " made him a master workman by the time 
he joined the staff of the New York Mirror. Its editors 
cast about for ways and means to increase its circulation 
and enlarge its narrow bank-account, and it was resolved 
over an oyster supper at the plebeian Delmonico's of that 
day, that Willis should travel abroad and write letters 
home. The moderate fortune of five hundred dollars 
was somehow scraped together and his passage was taken. 
He was to write fifty letters for five hundred dollars — 
upon which sum he would be expected to maintain himself 
like a gentleman in the capitals of Europe. His Pencil- 
lings By the Way were so popular that they were copied 
from the Mirror into hundreds of city and country 
journals." For four years he wrote weekly letters at 
ten dollars each. In January, 1839, Hawthorne promised 
Morris to furnish five stories for the Mirror. 

For only one year did the Mirror remain darkened, 
and then, reburnished, it again reflected metropolitan life 
as the New Mirror. In 1844 it became a daily, the 
Evening Mirror, and in this shape lasted for two years 
longer. But in all its triplicate forms its light had been 
about the same. Its last change of name and issue, like 
the second, had not been made with the usual motive 
of pumping life into the moribund. Morris and Willis 
announced, in September, 1844, that they had been driven 
out of the field of weekly journalism by the United States 
Post Office. The Mirror, being stitched, could not be 
mailed at newspaper rates but was taxed at the caprice of 
postmasters from two to fifteen cents a copy; and this 
more than doubled the price to country readers and 
killed the mail subscription. To avoid this, the editors 
had decided to publish every day. 

Protests against postal regulations had arisen ever 
since the press had been officially admitted to the mails 
and before then, when it had been admitted unofficially. 
When the service was established by the Government, it 
had refused to handle printed matter. The postmaster, 


less stern, was in the habit of sending the newspaper on 
with the mails for nothing; and consequently when the 
bags were full he let them wait over. This occasioned 
many complaints — the mail was always late enough in 
any case, since the post never travelled at night. In 
1790 there were seventy-five post-offices in the country, 
almost three times as many as there had been in 1776; 
and five years later there were four hundred and fifty- 
three. The tremendous rate of increase kept necessitating 
reorganisation of the system; and the Government, seeing 
that the riders were carrying the newspapers anyway, de- 
cided to get some revenue out of it. Consequently, news- 
papers were made mail matter in 1792. Having had their 
transportation for nothing, merely at the cost of in- 
expensive complaints on the part of subscribers at the 
delays under the old system, the newspapers naturally 
protested. They were alarmed, too, lest their circulation 
would be greatly cut down under the new law — particu- 
larly as this also allowed Congressmen to frank letters 
of information to their districts. The new law, however, 
did not harm the newspapers but worked hardship to 
the magazines, which it did not allow to enter the mails 
on the same footing with daily or weekly papers. The 
Columbian, at the end of 1792, announced that it could 
no longer exist under the oppression of paying letter 
rates, and the American Museum was discontinued also. 
In 1794 the postage rate on a single newspaper within 
its own State was reduced to one cent, and the regulation 
for other printed matter was somewhat ameliorated. 
When the size of the mail and the mode of conveyance 
would permit, magazines and pamphlets might be taken 
at the rate of one cent a sheet for fifty miles or less, 
half as much more for the next fifty, and for ten cents 
when the distance was over one hundred miles. This 
for magazines, which were invariably unable to collect 
their subscriptions at home, was something of a mockery. 
Nor, however limited their subscribers in number, did any 
of the superior magazines have only a local circulation. 


The National Magazine published at Richmond in 1799 
had returned thanks in the second number for an order 
of fifty-five copies from Georgia and sixty-six from Con- 
necticut. It apologised for the delay in getting out this 
number, although a semi-quarterly, because of the time 
necessary to secure correspondencies and communications 
from so wide an area. Beginning with ninety-six octavo 
pages, it ended as a weekly quarto pamphlet of twelve 
pages, printed in the District of Columbia for convenience 
of transportation. The publisher announced that he had 
been led to take this step because of the difficulty in 
distributing so large a number — in the back countries 
sometimes months elapsed before it was received, and the 
publication was so bulky that it was refused admittance 
to the mail except on the main line, and even there it had 
been very unwelcome. " The year 1804," says Mr. Mc- 
Masters, " may be taken arbitrarily as the beginning of 
a new epoch in the history of magazine enterprise. The 
opening of the mail to books and packages enabled the 
magazine publishers to find a larger class of general read- 
ers and also a large class whose interests were centred on 
a common object or profession. Then, for the first time, 
magazines devoted to particular interests began to appear 
in quick succession. Medicine, theology, law, were, of 
course, the three professions thus exploited. The Ameri- 
can Law Journal, of Baltimore, in 1809, the second in the 
English language, was the first native product of the 
new law in the Legal profession." The few specialised 
theological and medical magazines which had a struggling 
existence before this date had depended on local patron- 
age ; but doctors in the large cities had more money than 
lawyers, and the theological magazines appealed of course 
to laymen also. Even an American Musical magazine 
had, in New Haven, tried for a year to gain a foothold 
in 1786. 

The slowness of the mails was shown in the Post 
Master General's answer to the petitions that snowed him 
under in 181 1 and continued to pelt him for three years 


(and, indeed, in a steady though milder fashion until 
1830) . They were petitions that the opening of the post- 
offices for the assortment of mail during one hour on 
Sunday — not during divine service — be stopped. He 
said that if this v^as done, letters w^ould be delayed five 
days between Boston and New Orleans, three days be- 
tween Washington and New Orleans, and two days be- 
tween Washington and St. Louis; and that since travel- 
lers would patronise lines which did not carry the mails 
and were not held up on Sunday, it would end in letters 
being carried, as formerly, by private hands. Nor were 
lengthy delays by any means over when coaches went out 
and railroads came in. In the National Era of Wash- 
ington in 1850 occurs this item: "The Eastern and 
Western mails last week failed to reach this place at 
the proper time, every other day. If this happened on 
the great routes leading directly to this city, what must 
be the condition of things in other parts of the country. 
And when we recollect that a failure to connect at certain 
points may delay mail matter from three to seven days, 
certainly some of our subscribers will hardly wonder at 
the irregularity with which they receive their paper. At 
some points, we are apprised by correspondents that we 
have nearly lost all our subscribers in consequence of 
these inexcusable irregularities." Between proprietors- 
who found it unprofitable to publish a magazine on ac- 
count of the postal regulations and subscribers who found 
it unprofitable to take from a distance weekly periodicals 
which might also be long staled before delivery, the editor 
had more foes to face than his chief enemy, the delin- 
quent, of whom he was always complaining. 

But to return to Willis, the conversion of whose Mirror 
from a weekly to a daily has occasioned this long digres- 
sion. When he came back from his first long absence 
abroad, he took up the editorial function he had not held 
since he left Boston; and at the same time established 
the Corsair. This paper he did not intend to compete, 
except incidentally, wdth the Mirror — it was to exist 


entirely on foreign plunder, chiefly English. It was 
meant to share some of the goodly pickings with other 
weeklies, like Brother Jonathan and the New World, 
which were gorging a fat crop with English grain. Nor, 
fume as he might at the absence of the international 
copyright which allowed and compelled him to do this, 
was Willis as oblivious as other editors of similar publica- 
tions to the moral right of English authors to some 
foreign revenue from their works. For, while in Lon- 
don, he had engaged Thackeray to write for it at five 
dollars a close column. The Corsair was scuttled by 
those land-rats, unpaid subscriptions, during his second 
trip abroad ; and it was after his return that the Mirror 
was changed to a daily. The final failure of this seems 
to have been due to a temporary break-down of its 
energetic young editor. Willis was in the odd predica- 
ment of having to balance the demands of his handsome 
exchequer against those of his paternal pride in the suc- 
cess of his paper. He could hardly afford to write for 
himself. Even in 1841 Godey was paying him at the 
rate of fifty dollars for four close-printed pages, thought 
by most people to be the largest sum a magazine could 
ever pay; in 1842 he was writing an article a month 
for four separate magazines and receiving one hundred 
dollars for each. To turn from such lucrative business to 
grinding out material for his own pages, may have weekly 
caused him a conflict of emotions that would have worn 
out even a jauntier man. And to bid farewell to such 
golden harvests for the uncertain destiny of the Home 
Journal in 1847 (started also by Morris in 1845, ^s the 
National Press) was the acme of rash self-denial. But 
the Home Journal rewarded his third adventure in pa- 
ternity, for it proved a great pecuniary success as well as 
a literary one. It also set out to be the organ of the 
" town," and with for editor a Petronius who had eager 
reception in the most exclusive circles, it resplendently 
succeeded. Furthermore, it did not as a rule pay any- 
thing for outside contributions and frankly said so. It 


paid its own editorial staff, and no one else. Willis 
had found that it was no use trying to be quixotic under 
the hard conditions of the pursuit of literature in America. 
Possibly he did not try very hard, although he was as 
righteously indignant as any at the law which fostered 
such conditions. He had surmounted them by the hardest 
kind of industry, and others must do the same. If 
youngsters waxed wrathy at his cool appropriation of 
their wares when they were unknown and his cool dis- 
missal of them when they were able to claim some com- 
pensation, he pleasantly reminded them how recently 
the magazine had reiterated that it did not pay for contri- 
butions. In 1846 he wrote to a youngster in the first 
stage : " As to writing for the magazines, that is very 
nearly done for as a matter of profit. The competition 
for notoriety alone gives the editors more than they 
can use. You could not sell a piece of poetry now in 
America. The literary avenues are all overcrowded, and 
you cannot live by the pen, except as a drudge to a news- 

More picturesque and almost as assured in physical 
bearing as was Willis in social dictation, was his brother 
editor in so many ventures. General Morris. " There 
was something imposing and impressive in his personal 
appearance," says Stoddard. " He had a broad-padded 
chest and a bulky waist whose amplitude of girth was en- 
circled by a military belt, which supported the long and 
dangerous weapon that dangled from it." Yet famili- 
arity breeds contempt even with the girth of a general 
thus encircled, and Willis had the temerity to quarrel 
with this gentleman because during an absence, his co- 
editor had made free with his commas — a righteous rage 
which Holmes could well sympathise with. And in the 
quarrel the pen of Willis proved mightier than the sword 
of Morris. Mr. Charles Taber Congdon has in his 
Reminiscences an appreciation of the man who for years 
was our top-notcher as a successful man of letters. 
" Willis never had anything to do with politics, probably 


he did not know much about them ; but his editorial work 
did a good deal to correct the somewhat savage and coarse 
style of the prevailing journalism of the period. [Nor 
was the savagery confined to style alone. The dashing 
John Daniel, assistant editor of the Richmond Examiner 
about 1848, had fought nine pistol duels on account of 
his brilliant partisan attacks in his paper.] If the matter 
of his articles had been as good as the manner and if he 
had not principally confined himself to evanescent topics, 
he would have made a fame equal to that of Addison or 
Washington Irving. But he could write about hats and 
coats, parties and receptions, and all manner of fashion- 
able tweedledum and tweedledee. He was intensely ego- 
tistical, but then it was always in a graceful and well-bred 
way. He was unmistakably foppish in his work; but 
somehow you could not help feeling there was a degree 
of manliness under it all, and here and there a great 
cropping out of common sense. He had in a large 
measure that best faculty of a journalist ; he knew what 
people would like to read. He was lied about and 
libelled, but it never seemed very much to disturb his 

As Willis had expended his youthful energies upon his 
American Monthly in Boston, so young Park Benjamin 
after vainly endeavouring to keep afloat the New England 
in that city had come to the metropolis to recoup his for- 
tunes with the American Monthly of New York. On it 
he spent what little of his patrimony the Boston maw 
had not devoured. After its failure, he joined the New 
Yorker with Greeley. This had appeared in 1834 and 
planned to combine literature, politics, statistics, and 
general intelligence. Greeley said in his farewell address 
in 1 84 1, as he merged the paper into the Weekly Tribune, 
that at times he had been aided in the literary department 
by gentlemen of decided talent and eminence — Park 
Benjamin and Hoffman and Griswold — but at others 
the entire conduct had rested with him ; and he said also 
that delinquent subscribers owed him ten thousand dol- 


lars. Then Benjamin joined Epes Sargent with the 
New World, begun in 1835. " This was, I think," says 
Stoddard, *' the first paper of the kind ever published in 
New York, and was admirable for what it was and what 
it was intended to be ; namely, the speediest and cheapest 
reprint of the most popular British authors." It re- 
published English magazine literature wholesale, it is true, 
yet Stoddard's statement is by no means fair, as it had 
also many original departments conducted by prominent 
writers. It would have to be speedy, indeed, to compete 
with certain of the publishers. Marcus Butler of Harpers 
wrote Griswold in 1836: " Bulwer's drama is not in 
yet ; we expect it every day — we have our cases filled 
and all the quads and italics in the office collected to- 
gether, ready for the contest as soon as we receive the 
copy. We executed the entire work of Lucien Bonaparte 
and published it in forty hours after wx received the 
copy, and sold it at three shillings. We did not leave the 
office from Tuesday noon until Wednesday morning at 
nine. I am pretty well used up, I assure you." 

The success of the Neiv World led to many cheaper 
similar enterprises which had for a time a marked effect 
on the book-trade. The mammoth pages of the paper 
were a compromise between the largest printing press 
and the lowest postal rate, which still reckoned by the 
sheet. " I have written to Park Benjamin to send you 
his new paper, a monstrous sheet, full of all that is going 
on here ; by far the best paper I see," wrote Longfellow 
in 1840 to a foreign correspondent. " I wrote immedi- 
ately to New York about your letters from Rome, but 
not to the Knickerbocker, because it has been in trouble 
and not able to pay anybody. I wrote to Sargent. After 
some delay, I got an answer showing that nobody pays 
nowadays. * The fact is that all our publishers, whether 
of books or periodicals, are desperately poor at present ; 
money is not to be had.' And this is very true. You 
have no idea of the state of things. My publisher 
[Colman] has failed. Most publishers will not look at 


a book. Clark writes me that the Knickerbocker^ that is, 
the business part of it — will be in new hands. He has 
not paid me for three years. Poor fellow, he has had 
a hard time, and been almost desperate, I fear." Stod- 
dard says that while there was certainly no money in the 
Knickerbocker for its contributors, its jaunty editor man- 
aged to live out of it and live well, his enemies said ; for 
if cash was not abundant with him, credit was — and 
what could a happy-go-lucky fellow want besides an 
abundance of credit? In 1840, Park Benjamin wrote to 
Longfellow : " Your ballad ' The Wreck of the Hes- 
perus ' is grand. Enclosed are twenty-five dollars, the 
sum you mentioned for it, paid by the proprietors of the 
New World, in which glorious paper it will resplendently 
coruscate on Saturday next. Of all American journals, 
the New World is alone worthy to contain it." For 
some time to come, Benjamin and Samuel Ward acted 
as brokers to the Cambridge poet, who, in his gentle way 
had all the New England horror of commerce and all the 
New England desire to benefit thereby, so long as such 
shocking debasement of the muse had to be. He was a 
firm believer in the sacred dictum that you may lead 
Pegasus to water, but you should not make him drink. 
In 1837 comes this amusing item in his letters. " Willis 
is writing a tragedy to order for Miss Clifton, who gives 
him a thousand dollars. I can hardly tell you how sorry 
I am for this. Why not order a dozen as well as one? " 
But austere as was the creed of the cult, Longfellow was 
never unhuman enough to refuse the large prices which 
his friends had bargained for — even when his poems 
were printed in the New York Ledger. In 1841 be- 
tween him and his two friendly brokers the mails were 
busy. " I had no sooner sealed and sent my last, with 
Endymion asleep under its leaves," he wrote to Ward 
iin September, " than who should come in but Park 
Benjamin himself ! I told him what I had done, whereat 
he expressed great grief; and to console him, I promised 
to write you and cry, Stop that poem! If, therefore, 


it is not already in the paws of Arctiirus or the claws of 
Old Nick, you may send it to Benjamin." In November, 
he wrote: "A letter from Park Benjamin to-day. He 
wants two poems (orders two pair of boots!) and offers 
twenty dollars each. If you have not disposed of Charles 
River, send it to him. If you have, send one of the 
others." Later the same month, comes a little mix-up in 
the three-handed partnership. " O' Sullivan is to have 
the God's Acre [for the Democratic Review']. That is 
right; and now all will doubtless flow on harmoniously. 
Benjamin has doubtless been in some perplexity between 
my negotiations with him and yours." Park wrote to 
the poet, thus ideally poetising within an enchanted garden 
so near and yet so far from the vulgar mart, that he had 
sold the Goblet of Life and the River Charles for 
forty dollars. He had not taken them himself because he 
did not particularly like them and because the New World 
had just entered into costly arrangements for a corre- 
spondence in England. He asked Longfellow to furnish 
an occasional prose article and poem for Graham's, " of 
which Poe is one editor. It is by far the best of this 
class of periodicals and will pay liberally and punctually." 
Earlier in the year, Poe himself had asked Longfellow 
for something each month, " length and subject a discre- 
tion. In respect to terms, we would gladly offer you 
carte blanche; and the periods of payment should also 
be made to suit yourself." Longfellow had then de- 
clined, on account of preoccupation with other work. 
Constant dripping wears away even crystal, however, 
and the services of Benjamin coupled with his praise of 
the Philadelphia magazine seemed to have conquered the 
poet at last. In 1843 he wrote a letter which throws 
some light on the cost of those illustrations and " em- 
bellishments " which were always moving the dignified 
and unembellished magazines to tears or jeers. " In the 
next number of Graham's is an unlikeness of me — a 
ridiculous caricature. As soon as it was sent to me I 
wrote Graham to have it suppressed, but too late. It 


was printed and had cost him some five hundred dollars 
and he was not wiUing to lose so much money. You 
will be amused and perhaps a little vexed afterward, 
when you see what a picture is distributed over the coun- 
try, to the number of forty thousand, as my portrait." 
In 1844 he wrote to an editor, " My engagements with 
Mr. Graham [to write exclusively for him] prevent me 
from taking any part in your proposed magazine." 

Griswold said the Democratic Review in 1837 had 
become the most successful political magazine in the 
country. It had had a somewhat significant history in 
its journey toward literature. As long as its material 
had been all gratuitous, it remained extremely partisan 
in both contributions and readers; when it paid for 
articles, it published a better grade of material and was 
read by both parties alike. Whig writers, noting both 
of these phenomena, overcame their prejudices and con- 
tributed. When Brownson merged the Boston Quarterly 
Review into the Democratic, he told his subscribers that 
they would obtain as much matter for five dollars as he 
had furnished them for twelve or fifteen. " Five years' 
experience has attended the editor, and his brilliant suc- 
cess justifies our estimation of his worth and ability. In 
addition to his own essays, it is enriched by contributions 
from the first literary men in the country. As organ 
of the Democratic party it has, of course, a decided 
political character, but it is a magazine and devoted prin- 
cipally to general literature. In it, we intend publishing 
our general system of philosophy and metaphysics. It 
stands already at the head of the monthly magazines in 
this country. If anything could make us not regret 
parting with our own Review, it is that we are to aid in 
a work so respectable and be in some measure also united 
with a man, scholar, and politician whom we so highly 
esteem as its accomplished and independent editor." 

The dilution of the fiery liquor of its earlier partisan- 
ship may not have proceeded from their disappointment 
in being awarded the government printing in Washing- 


tori. They had naturally counted on receiving so paltry 
an amount of it as to cover their risks at least, in accord- 
ance with the time-honoured practice in Washington of 
giving it to political friends. But at any rate when they 
resumed publication in 1840 after their failure, and moved 
to New York, they had larger journalistic aims. Lowell, 
that year when he hoped to make his four hundred dol- 
lars all told, had arranged with O' Sullivan for ten or 
fifteen dollars a poem. That same year, 1842, O'Sulli- 
van was writing to Griswold that he had in spite of his 
large circulation sustained heavy losses " from inexperi- 
ence, dishonest agents, widely extended credit in the sub- 
scriptions, and the depreciation and irregularity of the 
currency in which they received payment, which was 
often at fifty per cent, discount." And the following 
year Thoreau said that he had knocked vainly at the 
door of the magazine. " Were it not for its ultraism in 
politics," said Poe that year, " we should regard the 
Democratic Review the most valuable journal of the day. 
Its editor is a man of fine matter-of-fact talents, and a 
good political writer though not a brilliant one. The 
principal contributors are Brownson, the new-light philos- 
opher, Bancroft, Whittier, Bryant, Hawthorne, and Miss 
Sedgwick. The department of criticism is conducted in 
a candid, sensible and upright manner. Besides the no- 
tices of new books accompanying each number, it 
generally contains two or three elaborate reviews, which 
make it an agreeable work for a man of letters. And 
as to its embellishments ( for everything must be pictured 
into the world nowadays !) we consider them of the most 
truly valuable kind, being accurate and well-executed por- 
traits of eminent men. Most highly, indeed, do we 
esteem the Democratic Review, and take it all in all, we 
acknowledge only three as its superiors in any country; 
namely, Tait's Magazine, Fraser, and Blackwood, and 
these it will fully equal when it has the advantage of their 

It was not until 1845 that the Whigs had a Review of 


their own. And to the attractions of party loyalty it 
added substantial payment — more than its finances 
would bear, it said in the fourth volume, though in their 
opinion inadequate enough, but still in the aggregate a 
larger sum than any other periodical had paid for its 
contributions. Colton's American Review (1845-1850), 
at least the third New Yorker of that name, was a digni- 
fied and able journal of the statelier sort, as became a 
five dollar publication. Its idea of the mission of letters 
was a high one. " Our literature has never been suffi- 
ciently in earnest. It has been too much the product of 
light moments. We confess to an almost total distrust 
of the judgments of critical work in America; and a 
sea of trash seems rapidly swallowing up the delicate 
perception and calm thought both of critics and people." 
Its idea of nationality in our literature was likewise a 
high one. " A very considerable class of persons have 
the same opinion of our own that the German people have 
of English genius. The English, said Goethe, never 
think. Now, we hold our own good minds equal to the 
best of these days. It is a common error to suppose that 
great advances in arts, letters and philosophy are made 
by the isolated labour of a few astonishing individuals; 
it is the people from whom they spring that have made 
the advance possible. The conduct of the literary de- 
partment of the Review presents difficulties which will 
not be overcome until a change takes place in public 
opinion in regard to the comparative merits of foreign 
and American intellects." In both of these Reviews the 
political articles were pronounced enough, but you could 
not have told from the abundant literary articles and the 
verse which one of them you were reading. They had 
not been edited with a purpose, as had been the National 
Review at the beginning of the century. 

Handsome praise from Poe was his tribute to the 
Democratic; and, as with every magazine that he praised 
or blamed, it must be taken with suspicion and at the 
same time with the knowledge that more than any other 


magazinist of the period his judgment, if it could be 
properly disencumbered of its personal prejudice, was of 
value. Poe's New York dates, in spite of the amount 
of biographical attention he has received, share the con- 
fusion of the entire shifty period. He joined the staff 
of the New York Quarterly in 1837 and continued there 
the ferocity of his earlier critical work on the Messenger. 
In 1838 he moved to Philadelphia and returned to New 
York in 1844. First, he became sub-editor and critic on 
the Mirror. Here WilHs praised his industry and 
fidelity. During his time on the Mirror he published 
The Raven in the American Review, for which he 
got ten dollars. It was in 1841 that he praised this 
magazine on Godey's. " It is now commencing its second 
year; and I can say from my own personal knowledge 
that its circulation exceeds two thousand — it is probably 
about two thousand five hundred. So marked and imme- 
diate a success has never been attained by any of our 
five dollar magazines with the exception of the Southern 
Literary Messenger, which in the course of nineteen 
months (subsequent to the seventh from its commence- 
ment) attained a circulation of rather more than five 
thousand.'* These months marked, of course, the dura- 
tion of Poe's connection with the journal. 

He left the Mirror in 1845 to assist on the just started 
Broadway Journal. The chief editor of this was C. F. 
Briggs. " We have chosen the name," ran the first edi- 
torial, " because it is indicative of the spirit which we 
intend shall characterise our paper. Broadway is con- 
fessedly the first street in the first city of the New World. 
As Paris is France and London, England ; so is Broadway, 
New York. And New York is fast becoming, if she 
be not already, America ; in spite of South Carolina and 
Boston. We shall do what we can to render it in some 
degree worthy of the name we have given it. We shall 
endeavour to make it entirely original, and instead of the 
effete vapours of English magazines, which have here- 
tofore been the chief filling of our weekly journals, give 


such homely thoughts as may be generated among us.'* 
Maria Lowell wrote Briggs that James was shocked at 
the title, and James's feelings may be gathered from a 
letter he had written Briggs the year before. " New 
York letters are becoming very fashionable. You 
Gothamites strain hard to attain a metropolitan character, 
but I think if you felt very metropolitan you would not 
be showing it on all occasions. I see that the exponent 
of your city, the Herald, speaks of the Philadelphia papers 
as * the provincial press ! ' '' Regarding Brigg's new ven- 
ture came this letter in 1845. " I received this morning 
two numbers of your Broadway Journal, and am in haste 
to tell you how much I like it. As to the arrangement 
you propose [Briggs had written " Poe writes for me at 
the rate of one dollar a column. If you will do so, I 
shall esteem it a capital bargain "], I know not what to 
say. In spite of your surmise, I am so Httle in the habit 
of measuring what I do by dollars and cents that nothing 
is harder for me than to set a value on my wares. I 
know nothing of your ability, and I should certainly steer 
by that if I were better informed. For Columbus I 
should expect more than for prose. But I had a thousand 
times rather give it to you (as it would be my natural 
impulse to do) than think you had paid me more for it 
than you could easily afford. All I ask for is enough for 
necessaries. Graham will no doubt give me (as he has 
done) thirty dollars for a poem. The Anti-Slavery 
Friends pay me five dollars for a leader to their paper, 
making ten dollars a month while I am here." This was 
in Philadelphia and the paper was the Freeman. The 
next month he wrote : " I do not know whether to be 
glad or sorry that you have associated Poe and Watson 
with you as editors. I do not know the last; the first 
certainly is able ; but I think there should never be more 
than one editor with any proprietary control over the 
paper. Its individuality is not generally so well pre- 

In July, the paper went under the sole charge of Poe. 


He bought it from Briggs for fifty dollars — on a note 
signed by Greeley, who paid it in the end. In August, 
Lowell wrote to Briggs : " Poe, I am afraid, is wholly 
lacking in that element of manhood which, for want of 
a better name, we call character. As I prognosticated, 
I have made him my enemy by doing him a service. In 
the last Broadway Journal he has accused me of plagi- 
arism, and misquoted Wordsworth to sustain the charge. 
He wishes to kick down the ladder by which he rose. 
He is welcome. Now, how can I expect to be understood, 
much more to have my poetry understood, by such a man 
as Poe? I cannot understand the meanness of men. 
They seem to trace everything to selfishness. Why, 

B actually asked Carter how much Poe paid me for 

writing my notice of him in Graham's. Did such base- 
ness ever enter the head of man?" During his editor- 
ship, Poe wrote a large portion of the Journal himself, 
and some of his stories appeared in it, notably the Tell 
Tale Heart. But he was not able financially to keep 
the breath of life in it. One of Stoddard's recollections 
is of this time. Stoddard called upon him at his house, 
not finding him at the ofBce, and was received with great 
courtliness and told that the Ode on a Grecian Flute — 
Stoddard's first poem — would be published next week. 
Next week's issue had this notice, " To the author of the 
Lines on the Grecian Flute; we fear that we have mis- 
laid the poem." A week later came this notice : " We 
doubt the originality of the Grecian Flute, for the reason 
that it is too good at some points to be so bad at others. 
Unless the author can reassure us, we decline it." Stod- 
dard called to reassure. " Poe started and glared at me 
and shouted * You lie, damn you ! Get out of here, or I'll 
throw you out ! ' " " The Bells," says Stoddard, " was 
sold thrice and paid for every time; Annabel Lee was 
sold twice, and was printed by Griswold before it could ap- 
pear either in Sartain's or the Southern Literary Messen- 
ger.'' Thomas Dunn English wrote that Poe had no 
sense of right and wrong whenever need or resentment 


provoked him, and could no more be held responsible for 
many things he did than could a lunatic or an idiot. He 
adds that the poor fellow rarely received five hundred dol- 
lars a year for his work — so his need was as constant as 
his resentment. 

As Poe had lied about or had unfortunate business deal- 
ings with almost every literary personage in New York 
and many of its magazines, the uproar that was created by 
an article of his signed " L '' in the New World March 
4th, 1843, can be imagined. It set out to survey the maga- 
zines. The most prominent, he said, were the Demo- 
cratic Review, the Knickerbocker, Graham's, Lady's Book, 
Sargents, Pioneer, Lady's Companion, Southern Messen- 
ger. The first he praised highly, as we have seen; the 
second he dismissed as a poor ruin of former greatness ; 
the third and fourth — Philadelphia magazines — he 
treated with indulgent gentleness and some pity; the 
Southern Literary Messenger had diffused more valuable 
information throughout the Union than any other literary 
work for the past five years, but alas, its honest, worthy, 
and hard-working originator was no more, and he trusted 
that an able editor would speedily be employed to secure 
to it its former high standing. The resuscitation of 
Knickerbocker and the preservation of the Southern 
might both have been secured, one conceives, by an editor 
near at hand whom Poe could name if pressed. The 
editor of Sargent's came in for almost as much savage 
derision as Lewis Clark of Knickerbocker. The editor 
of the Lady's Companion, which Thoreau had just been 
saying was the only magazine that paid him, had the 
presumption to be a foreigner, and the journal he edited 
was a receptacle of nonsense from first to last, of picture 
nonsense, fashion nonsense, poetical nonsense, and prose 
nonsense — a work of no beneficial influence whatever, 
which ought to be annihilated. 

" In speaking of the mass of matter in the above- 
mentioned periodicals, it can only be designated as senti- 
mental, love-sick, or fashionable stories and unmeaning 


rhymes. Who can deny that an exceedingly bad influence 
is exerted by our magazine literature? Thousands of 
articles are published which instead of instructing the 
youthful mind * please with a rattle, tickle with a straw ' ; 
instead of instilling a sound morality, they inculcate a 
neglect of everything that is valuable; instead of making 
the poor contented with their condition, they descant 
upon the luxury of fashion and wealth, causing a thousand 
hearts bitterly to ache for an imaginary want. Is not 
this kind of literature a nuisance? Let every man who 
believes that the tendency of this literature is bad, refrain 
from purchasing the magazines which publish it. As to 
those who tax their brains to produce this literature, let 
them enjoy their only legitimate reward — the flattery 
of fools, foolish young men and foolish young women. 
Let every person who acknowledges such men as Ingra- 
ham and Willis (Willis we mean as he is now — not as 
he was formerly) and such women as Helen Berkeley 
and all their followers — let all such people, we say, be 
laughed at for their taste. The light literature of our 
present day, particularly as disseminated in our fashion- 
able magazines, is almost without a single redeeming 

This general verdict time has confirmed. And though 
Poe was the last one to throw stones at an editor who 
himself filled most of his magazine, or reprinted articles 
that he had used elsewhere, or who was reduced to shifty 
practices through poverty and greed, or who praised good 
markets ; or even at authors who turned out meaningless 
rhymes by the wholesale or were specialists in the style 
of fiction they had helped to create ; although he was, in 
short, a rebel consistent in nothing save rebellion — he 
was the most energetic and achieving protestant of his 
time in a cause which the next decade set about more 
wisely and temperately to carry. 

The best summing up of the Willis and Poe period is 
found in an English magazine article in 1848. It was 
written by Charles Astor Bristed, a New Yorker and a 


writer for American magazines, who was what few New 
York writers of the period were, a cosmopolitan with a 
point of view limited neither to America nor to Broad- 
way. It was a comment somewhat different from one 
that had appeared in the Derbyshire Courier in 1835, 
" One peculiar difference between our periodicals and 
those of America is this — ours are always dear and 
sometimes indifferent: across the Atlantic they are al- 
ways cheap and usually good." From Bristed's lively, 
forceful, and just article some paragraphs may be quoted 
as fit pendant for Poe's. 

"Of American reviews and magazines British readers 
very seldom hear anything. This is certainly not owing 
to the scarcity of these productions for they are as 
numerous in comparison as the newspaper, have a very 
respectable circulation (in many cases forty thousand) 
and that at the not remarkably low price of four or five 
dollars. Nor is it due to the fact that their topics are 
exclusively local, for there is scarcely a subject under 
heaven which they do not treat; and a European might 
derive some very startling information from them. The 
Democratic Review, for example, has a habit of predict- 
ing twice or thrice a year that England is on the point 
of exploding utterly and going off into absolute chaos. 
* Perhaps,' interrupts an impatient non-admirer of things 
American generally, * they are not worth hearing about ! ' 
And this suggestion is not so far from truth as it is from 

" In examining the causes of the inferiority of Amerir- 
can periodical literature, the most readily assignable and 
generally applicable is that its contributions are mostly 
unpaid. It is pretty safe to enunciate as a general rule 
that when you want a good thing you must pay for it. 
Now, the reprint of English magazines can be sold for 
two dollars per annum, whereas a properly supported 
home magazine cannot be afforded for less than four or 
five. Hence, no one will embark a large capital in so 
doubtful an undertaking; and periodical editorship is 


generally a last resource or a desperate speculation. One 
of the leading magazines in New York — perhaps on 
the whole the most respectable and best conducted — was 
started with a borrowed capital of three hundred dollars. 
The proprietors of a magazine should have a fair sum in 
hand to begin with, to secure the services of able and 
eminent men to make a good start. At the same time, 
the editor finds at his disposal a most tempting array (so 
far as quantity and variety are concerned) of gratuitous 
contributions. For there is in America a mob of men 
and women who write with ease. The system of compo- 
sitions and orations at school and college makes them 
* writers ' before they know how to read and gives them 
a manner before they can have acquired matter. Most 
of these people are sufficiently paid by the glory of ap- 
pearing in print. The specific evils of this system of 
providing material are that it prevents an editor from 
standing on a proper footing toward his contributors, 
who feel that they are doing a charitable, patronising, or 
at least a very friendly act in contributing ; and it stands 
in the way of honest criticism, for he who cannot pay 
in dollars must pay in flattery. Other influences con- 
spire to pervert and impede criticism. Very few of the 
American periodical writers, professed or occasional, are 
liberally educated. The popular education tends to plati- 
tude and commonplace. Their reading is chiefly of new 
books, a most uncritical style of reading. The demo- 
cratic influence moulds all men to think unlike, and Mrs. 
Grundy is a very important estate in the republic. Then 
there are very powerful interests all ready to take offence 
and cry out. The strongest editor is afraid of some of 
these. One great aim of an American magazine is to 
tread on nobody's toes, or as their circulars phrase it ' to 
contain nothing which shall offend the most fastidious.' 
Accordingly, nearly all the magazines and reviews profess 
and practice political neutrality; and the two or three 
exceptions depend almost entirely on their political articles 
and partisan circulation. We know one editor who 


is continually apologising to his subscribers and one 
half of his correspondents for what the other half 

" Another enemy of true criticism in America is pro- 
vincialism. The country is parcelled out in small cliques, 
who settle things in their own way in their own particu- 
lar districts. Thus, there are shining lights in Boston 
who are * small potatoes ' in New York, and * most re- 
markable * men in the West whom no one has remarked in 
the East. Sometimes, indeed, these cliques contrive to 
ramify and extend their influence by a regular system 
of * tickle me and I'll tickle you,' which there is not even 
an endeavour to conceal. For instance, when the classi- 
cal lion of a certain clique had been favourably reviewed 
by a gentleman in another city, whose opinion was sup- 
posed to be worth something, the periodical organ of the 
clique publicly expressed its thanks for the favour, and 
in return dug up a buried novel of the critic's and did 
its best to resuscitate it by a vigorous puff. The excep- 
tions to indiscriminate praise in American reviewing 
usually spring from private misunderstandings. Two 
literateurs on a magazine quarrel, one of them is kicked 
out of doors, and then they begin to criticise each other's 
writings. And the consequence is that it is next to im- 
possible to pass an unfavourable opinion upon anything 
without having personal motives attributed to you. 
When an author is condemned, the first step is to find out 
the writer of the review and assail him on personal 
grounds. Also, there are often disputes about unsettled 
accounts, which have an awkward tendency to influence 
the subsequent critical and editorial opinions of both 

" Such are some of the causes which militate against 
the attainment of high standard in American periodical 
literature. For some years it went on very swimmingly 
on credit, but it is doubtful if the experiment could be 
successfully repeated. Since it is plain that the republi- 


cation of English magazines must interfere with the home 
article, the passing of an International Copyright law 
would be the greatest benefit which could be conferred on 
American periodical literature." 



It is difficult at first glance to see why the Boston literati 
almost to a man should have despaired of establishing 
there a first-class all-round literary magazine. What 
Leland said when he was residing there in 1862, its bril- 
liant circle at the brightest, could have been said with 
equal truth at any time in the previous twenty years. 
Leland had lived in several European capitals and in 
Philadelphia and New York; and was thus an expert 
witness for the defence. Moreover, he did not particu- 
larly care for Boston — which makes his testimony all 
the stronger. " In the very general respect manifested 
in all circles in Boston for culture and knowledge in 
every form, it is certainly equalled by no city on earth." 
This being the case, why then did the projector of a first- 
class magazine — publisher or author — invariably fear 
that such a community would fail to support it ? 

Leland's next sentence may afford a clue. " Every 
stranger has a verdict or judgment passed on him, he is 
numbered and labelled at once, and it is really wonderful 
how in a few days the whole town knows of it." Culti- 
vated Boston was a village community: it was always 
foregathering at various meeting-places and swapping 
opinions. And it had the thrifty village habit of passing 
its books around also. It distinctly believed in neighbour- 
hood copies. Emerson — who remembered with chagrin 
that he couldn't find five hundred buyers for the Dial in 
spite of all the eager discussion about it — might have 
been thinking of this when he wrote in 1850 that a New 
England magazine was an impossible problem. Well 
might Higginson, on a lecture tour in the West, record 



in 1867 his amazement at the support given to the New 
England magazine which was at last successfully estab- 
lished. " I have heard of a little town in northern Iowa 
where there were fifty houses and twenty-five copies of 
the Atlantic/' That was not the sort of thing he was 
accustomed to: people were far more neighbourly in 
Cambridge and Boston. 

Fifteen years before the Atlantic was begun, Lowell 
had attempted to do much the same sort of thing in the 
Pioneer; the immediate occasion of its suspension was 
Lowell's breakdown with eye-strain, but starvation had 
already set in. Three years before that, in 1839, Haw- 
thorne had written Longfellow, " I saw Mr. Sparks some 
time since and he said that you were thinking of a literary 
paper. Why not? Your name would go a great way 
toward insuring its success; and it is intolerable that 
there should not be a single belles-lettres journal in New 
England." Cultivated New England was too busy mak- 
ing contributions to every cause in Christendom to sup- 
port the " embodiment of the national literature " it was 
always complacently talking about. 

Thus the canny projector of the Atlantic in allowing 
it to be considered as the organ of the anti-slavery party, 
sought to enlist not only ready pens but reluctant pennies. 
He was hitching his star to a wagon. Boston had tried 
the purely literary " periodical " and failed to float it even 
when buoyed up with fashion-plates. It would now see 
what a double-header might do. Says Scudder's Lowell : 

Its founders did not conceal their intention to make it a po- 
litical magazine. It bore as its sub-head a title it has never re- 
linquished, " A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics." But 
the magazine did not become, as it might in lesser hands, a mere 
propaganda of reform or the organ of a political party; neither 
did it assume an air of philosophical absenteeism. The space 
given to the discussion of affairs was not considerable, but the 
subjects were chosen with deliberation and treated with a good 
deal more than newspaper care. They were intended to have 
the incisiveness of brilliant newspaper work and a breadth not 
to be looked for in a newspaper. 


In this age of magazines, wrote J. T. Trowbridge, it is 
difficult to imagine the interest excited by the advent of 
the long-expected Atlantic. Colonel Higginson says it 
was really planned in 1853, t>ut was stayed four years by 
the business failure of J. P.- Jewett and Company, who 
were to have been its publishers. 

The present editor of the magazine says that the whole 
plan of it was originated by the " editor who never was 
the editor," Francis H. Underwood, and but for the 
failure of the projected publishers he would have enjoyed 
the full credit for the enterprise. At the failure and the 
consequent collapse of the plan, Lowell wrote him, " I 
think this Mr. Jew-it ought to be — that something ought 
to be done to him, but for that matter, nearly all book- 
sellers stand in the same condemnation." Underwood 
now entered the counting-room of Phillips, Sampson and 
Company. In the meantime, through all the years of its 
frustration, the idea had been slowly growing, " Why 
should not Boston have a Monthly of her own ? " Boston 
felt — all the more because she showed it in no other way 
— her inferiority in this respect to her rivals New York 
and Philadelphia. Each of these barbarian cities had a 
trinity of graces — Philadelphia with Graham's, Godey's, 
and Sartain's (although the Boston literati thought them 
all vapourish and simpering). New York with the hoary 
Knickerbocker, and the adolescent Harper's and Put- 
nam's — while Boston, the centre of American literature, 
did not possess and had really never possessed a magazine 
of her own which could be agreeable for her best writers 
and at the same time appeal to popular support. But 
Underwood began now to develop a surprising social pop- 
ularity (for a business clerk) among the Cambridge-Bos- 
ton literary group; and with the idea of his magazine 
always in mind he set to work to become a mediator be- 
tween this group and his new firm, which was already 
identified with some of Boston's best literary interests. 
Sampson had died about 1852, and the other partner of 


Phillips in 1857 was William Lee, who had been for many 
years the senior partner in Lee and Shepard. 
Here let Scudder's Lowell take up the story : 

Philh'ps had the practical man's distrust of new enterprises 
suggested by authors, and a temperament calculated to chill en- 
thusiasm. Underwood, reader for the firm, had already re- 
ceived a pledge of support from Lowell, Longfellow, Holmes, 
and others ; and he represented strongly to Lee the possibility of 
the magazine which should start out with a staff of such emi- 
nent writers. Phillips having been won over, plans were rap- 
idly pushed. Phillips wrote a letter to his niece telling her of 
the dinner he gave to talk the project over. " We sat down at 
three p. m. and rose at eight. The time occupied was longer by 
about four hours and thirty minutes than I am in the habit of 
consuming in that kind of occupation, but it was the richest 
time intellectually by all odds that I have ever had. The exact 
arrangement of the table was as follows : 

Mr. Underwood 

Cabot Lowell 

Motley Holmes 

Longfellow Emerson 


Each one is known alike on both sides of the Atlantic and is 

read beyond the limits of the English language. Though I say 

it as shouldn't, it was the proudest day of my life." 

Nevertheless, the cautious Mr. Phillips would not make 
up his mind until he had seen Mrs. Stowe, who was at 
that moment in England. He had unbounded admira- 
tion for her ; and they had been for some years on exceed- 
ingly friendly terms. She rarely came to town without 
calling upon him, although she did not extend her cordial- 
ity to every one in the house. Though it was Jewett who 
had taken the risk of publishing Uncle Tom's Cabin — 
indeed, put the idea into her head while it was running as 
a serial — and on the other hand Phillips had declined it 
when she had offered it to him, she had, on receiving an 
intimation that Phillips would not decline a second book 
from her (a lady who had sold three thousand copies on 
the day of publication!), gladly given him in 1854 Sunny 
Memories, and in 1856 Dred. Now she conferred at once 


upon the project her doubly distinguished support, and 
promised to write for the magazine. Underwood after- 
ward told Arthur Oilman that she was the last straw that 
had broken the back of the camel's prudence — only of 
course he did not put it so flippantly. It remained to give 
the magazine a name, now that it had at last a local habita- 
tion; and the christening was neatly accomplished by 

But the first number was after all delayed. For in the 
great financial panic of 1857 (the worst the country had 
seen for just twenty years) the firm almost went under; 
and the narrow escape justified to the band of eager writ- 
ers what had seemed the excessive caution of Phillips. 
The first number appeared at last in October, calling itself 
November. The death of Phillips two years after and 
the break up of the firm severed the connection of its 
founder, Underwood, with the magazine. The editorship 
had been given to Lowell, at a salary of two thousand five 
hundred dollars with six dollars a page for his own con- 
tributions. This and the regular rate for other contribu- 
tions was on a scale more liberal than had ever been heard 
of before. 

When Scudder became editor of the Atlantic in 1890, 
Lowell wrote him, " There are now twenty people who 
can write English where there was one then.'* But there 
were a great many more than could find a steady market ; 
and it is no wonder that writers whose only dependence 
for a livelihood rested upon magazines were always 
clamouring to found them. " It is safe to say,'* reflects 
Scudder, " that few prominent writers in America, Long- 
fellow and Cooper being the chief exceptions, failed to 
dream of launching a magazine ; and the initiative in al- 
most all the cases of important magazines has been taken 
by the author rather than the publisher." The hungry 
New England authors appropriated the new one with 
avidity. " I am glad if you like the Atlantic" Emerson 
wrote Furness in January, 1858. " We hope when it shall 
be better. One would think it would be easy to find good 


criticism, but the department is hard to fill. Then what 
1 call the Zoroastrian element, which I think essential to a 
good American journal. Lord Bacon would * note as de- 
ficient ! ' And I believe further that we have not yet had 
a single correspondent from Philadelphia. I hope we 
shall yet supply all these deficiencies." 

The Atlantic Club (though it never actually existed as 
such) gathered the contributors together under the 
auspices of the publishers during the first months of strong 
interest; and Phillips had presumably other red-letter 
evenings or rather afternoons in his life, now drawing 
to a close. But gradually some of the contributors felt 
their feast of pure culture impaired by the presence of 
mundane persons like publishers, and more exclusive din- 
ners were given. Colonel Higginson speaks of one amus- 
ingly in Cheerful Yesterdays. " The most notable of 
the monthly dinners was held at the Revere House on the 
occasion of Mrs. Stowe's projected departure for Europe. 
It was the only one to which ladies were invited, and the 
invitation was accepted with a good deal of hesitation 
by Mrs. Stowe, and with a distinct guarantee that no wine 
should be furnished. Other feminine contributors were 
invited, but for various reasons none appeared except 
Mrs. Stowe and Harriet Prescott. The dinner was a 
very awkward one until wine, surreptitiously ordered, en- 
livened things a bit. Dr. and Mrs. Stowe told Whittier 
afterward that while the company was very distinguished 
the conversation was not what they had been led to ex- 
pect." This may be readily appreciated when it is known 
that Lowell discoursed to Mrs. Stowe on the superiority 
of Tom Jones to all other novels, while Holmes dem- 
onstrated to Dr. Stowe that profane swearing really 
originated in the pulpit. Poor Mrs. Stowe ! To sit at a 
table where wine and Tom Jones were alike dis- 
cussed! After such faithlessness and such tactlessness, 
no wonder it took the Atlantic thirty years to summon up 
its courage to invite women again ! 

A few weeks after the death of Phillips in 1859, the 


firm suspended payment. Its enormous stock of books 
and sheets and plates was sold at auction in the autumn, 
and Trowbridge says that he was shifted, scrip and scrip- 
page, to a New York house. Fortunately the Atlantic 
fell into good hands, he goes on, those of Ticknor and 
Fields; it is interesting to note that it was a project of 
the elder and, one would have supposed, more conserva- 
tive member, while it was opposed by the junior, whose 
literary tastes and associations with authors would have 
seemed likely to render him the more earnest of the two 
in its favour. The price, ten thousand dollars, looked 
formidably large for those days, and Mr. Fields deemed 
it too hazardous an undertaking. If he had been on the 
ground he might have thought differently; but he was 
abroad. At all events, the senior's courage and sound 
judgment were abundantly vindicated. So far, Trow- 
bridge ; and Scudder, too, says that after many plans for 
the future of the magazine and much competition of the 
publishers, Ticknor and Fields bought it. But although 
Scudder made one in the procession of Atlantic editors, 
still the following story — narrated many years after- 
ward in the magazine itself — seems too circumstantial to 
be inaccurate : 

Governor Rice was the assignee of the original publishers of 
the Atlantic, and he sent letters to a dozen different publishers 
telling them that he should sell it to the highest bidder, whose 
offer should be received by noon on a certain day. The day 
arrived, and not one bid had come. Mr. Rice walked over to 
the office of Ticknor and Fields and said to Mr. Ticknor, " I 
have not yet received your bid for the Atlantic." " No," re- 
plied the publisher, " and you will not, for we don't care to un- 
dertake the responsibility of the venture." In point of fact, the 
risk was not great, for the circulation stood at that time at 
thirty thousand copies. Mr. Rice pointed to the clock on the 
Old South, and it was after half-past eleven. " I am about to 
go to my office to open the bids," said he, " and I am sure Ticknor 
and Fields will be sorry if I find none there from them." Tick- 
nor was apparently immovable, Fields was in Europe. Mr. 
Rice continued his appeal, and the hands of the Old South clock 
their way. At five minutes to twelve Ticknor turned to his 
desk, wrote a line, sealed it, and handed it to the Governor. Mr. 


Rice carried it to his office and solemnly proceeded to open it. 
It was the only bid, and the sum mentioned was twelve thousand 
dollars. Mr. Rice went at once to Mr. Ticknor and said, " The 
Atlantic is yours." Mr. Ticknor was startled and replied, 
" Pray let no one know what I bid, for all my friends would 
think me crazy I " 

" I may say," wrote Lowell to Norton, " that I think 
it is just the best arrangement possible. Whether T. will 
want me or not is another question. I suppose he will 
think that Fields will make a good editor, besides saving 
the salary [which was now three thousand dollars] ; and 
F. may think so too. In certain respects he would, as the 
dining editor for example, to look after authors when they 
come to Boston and the like. I shall be quite satisfied, 
anyhow — though the salary is a convenience." Later, 
he wrote Emerson : " I saw Ticknor yesterday, and he 
says he wants the magazine to go on as it has gone. I 
never talked so long with him before, and the impression 
he gave was that of a man very shrewd in business after 
it is once in train, but very inert at judgment. I rather 
think Fields is captain when at home." 

When Fields returned, he took the helm. Times were 
so threatening that the firm seems to have concluded that 
the salary was, as Lowell had anticipated, an item. " On 
the business side of editorship, at least," says Higginson, 
" it was a great relief when Fields was in the chair, and 
the junior publisher reglly proved a much better editor 
in other ways. For one thing, being publisher, he had a 
free hand in paying for articles; and he raised prices 
steadily. He first introduced the practice of paying on 
acceptance, though he always said that it defeated his 
object. Instead of quieting the impatience of contribu- 
tors for publication, it increased it. He had a virtue 
which I have never known in any other editor or pub- 
lisher, that of volunteering to advance money on pros- 
pective articles yet to be written. I have also known 
him to increase the amount paid, on finding that an author 
particularly needed the money, especially if it were the 


case of a woman. He was capable of being influenced 
by argument, and was really the only editor I have ever 
encountered I could move for an instant by any cajoling; 
editors being as a rule a race made of adamant, as they 
should be." 

" In i860 our literary centre was in Boston," wrote 
Howells in Literary Friends, " wherever it is or is not 
at present. The claim of the commercial metropolis to 
literary primacy had passed with the perishing of inanition 
of Putnam's magazine, for Knickerbocker's was decrepit 
and doting, and Harper's was not yet distinctly literary. 
Philadelphia was now counting for nothing, its publica- 
tions having become really incredible in their insipidity. 
In Boston, every ambitious young writer was eager to 
enter his name with the chosen among the contributors 
of the Atlantic Monthly, and in the list of Ticknor and 
Fields, who were literary publishers in a sense such as the 
business world has known nowhere else before or since. 
Their imprint was a warrant of quality to the reader and 
of immortality to the author." With the establishment 
of her magazine, Boston stood at last in the eyes of New 
York and Philadelphia as she had long stood — not with- 
out reason — in her own. She was supreme. 

Aldrich was one of the ambitious young writers 
Howells speaks about. He might have been content with 
his success in New York, for at the ripe age of twenty 
he was sub-editor under Willis of the Home Journal, and 
was at the same time literary adviser for the publishing 
house of Perby and Jackson. On first entering Fields's 
offices in the Corner Bookstore, he says in Ponkapog 
Papers, he saw the editor's memorandum book open on the 
table and observed certain items within. (Doubtless he 
was careful to keep his own memorandum book closed 
when he became editor!) " Don't forget to mail R. W. 

E. his contract — Don't forget O. W. H.'s proofs " 

Whereupon the cheeky youngster added an item of his 
own, " Don't forget to accept T. B. A.'s poem," and fled. 
The poem was accepted, paid for, and never printed, says 


Aldrich ; and adds, " It was a real kindness." One won- 
ders if, when he came to occupy the editorial chair, he was 
as kind to the author of another poem with the manifest 
destiny of which another intruder interfered. When he 
took the editorship upon Mr. Howells's resignation in 
1881, says Professor Perry, he had the comforts — both 
before and since his time considered too Capuan for an 
Atlantic editor in office hours — of a pipe and a red setter. 
Once the setter ate a sonnet. " How should he know it 
was doggerel ? " exclaimed Aldrich admiringly. But 
there was no joke intended when about this time he gaily 
wrote to Bayard Taylor of his Ponkapog farm, careless 
of coming slang and quoting the laughter-loving Gail 
Hamilton, " I am twenty miles from my lemon — the 
Atlantic Monthly/' 

Mr. Howells thus tells of his first entrance into the 
sanctum of the Atlantic. 

My business relations at that time were with another house, 
but all my literary affiliations were with Ticknor and Fields; 
and it was the Old Corner Bookstore that drew my heart as 
soon as I had replenished my pocket in Cornhill. It very 
quickly happened that when I was shown into Mr. Fields's little 
room at the back of the store, he had just got the magazine 
sheets of a poem of mine from the Cambridge printers. [The 
poem, by the way, had been printed with an unfortunate error; 
and though it meant the wasting of a sheet in the entire edition. 
Fields recalled it.] He introduced me to Mr. Ticknor, who 
asked me whether I had been paid for it. I confessed that I 
had not. And then he got out a chamois-leather bag and took 
from it five half-eagles in gold and laid them on the green top of 
the desk in much the shape and of much the size of the Great 
Bear. I have never since felt myself paid so lavishly for any 
literary work, though I had more for a single piece than the 
twenty-five dollars that dazzled me in this constellation. The 
publisher seemed aware of the poetic nature of the transaction. 
" I always think it pleasant to have it in gold," he said. 

The success of the Atlantic made the firm amorous of 
other magazine adventures, and flirtations ensued which, 
in the end, brought about the departure of their first love 
to another household. An important one of these was a 


few years' dalliance with that venerable spinster, the 
North American. 

Lowell wrote to Fields in 1864, " It's a great compli- 
ment you pay me, that whenever I have fairly begun to 
edit a journal, you should buy it." Lowell and Norton 
had for a while been attempting to revive the magazine, 
which, though it had regained its literary distinction un- 
der Dr. Peabody, had still remained aloof not only from 
the world but from prosperity. The new editors were 
bringing it nearer to the former but not to the latter when 
Osgood decided to lend to the task the machinery of a 
large publishing house. " Under Lowell and Norton," 
says Scudder, " its scholarship though equally distinctive 
was more exact, and its breadth of view much enlarged ; 
it was a striking example of how a magazine may at once 
be lifted to a higher level without being compelled to 
turn a somersault. Norton took the labouring oar in 
editing, and Lowell yielded, as with the Atlantic, to the 
temptation to shirk the drudgery of editing." Neither 
the editors nor the publishers perceived, however, the 
salient fact — that the day of the quarterly was done. 
Mr. Howells wrote of the Lowell-Norton administration 
before the Osgood period : " The Review could have 
suffered nothing at their hands except that mysterious 
injury which comes of being made too good ; but it is cer- 
tain that it did not prosper, and I remember one of its 
publishers saying Here was the horse and carriage which 
he could have kept if he had not chosen to keep a Review." 
In spite of Osgood, it still remained an expensive vehicle. 
" Though he was a generous spirit," says Mr. Howells, 
" he was not inclined to more than the sacrifice of a horse 
and carriage on the shrine of the Review.'' He sold it, 
and rock-ribbed as she was, the sale shook New England. 
For the new owner of the maiden haled her from the 
study to the mart and from Boston to Beelzebub ! 

" The war was nearing its close," says Trowbridge, 
" when Fields invited my co-operation in establishing a 
new * illustrated magazine for boys and girls.' " It was 



called Oar Young Folks, and was a financial success from 
the start. Trowbridge, Gail Hamilton, and Lucy Lar- 
com were the editors. " I became manager in 1870. The 
firm at that time, under its new name of Fields, Osgood 
and Company, occupied a spacious store and chambers 
at 124 Tremont Street. The house had a lunch-room 
with a generously served table, at which publishers and the 
various editors met, and such contributors and book- 
authors as happened to be about were often welcomed." 
Aldrich had, in 1865, become editor of the third periodical 
of the house. Every Saturday, and Mr. Howells was now 
assistant to Fields on the Atlantic. " As I recall those 
pleasant rooms," wrote a contributor to the Atlantic, " it 
seems as though they were always full of sunshine. 
There could not be greyness or dulness with Mr. Fields, 
Mr. Aldrich, and Mr. Osgood in possession, and the con- 
stant visitor, who, the chances were, would be wise or 
witty or both. I think clouds and rain began to come 
when Mr. Fields retired. From the pleasant quarters in 
Tremont Street the house moved to Winthrop Square, 
and never again till it reached Park Street did it know 
the comforts of home, so to speak — it had only business 

Thus was Mr. Howells installed as assistant to Fields. 

The whole affair was conducted by Fields with his unfailing 
tact and kindness, but it could not be kept from me that the 
qualification I had as practical printer for the work was most 
valued and that as a proof-reader I was expected to make it 
avail on the side of economy. Our proof-reading was some- 
thing almost fearfully scrupulous and perfect. It would not 
do to say how many of the first American writers owed their 
correctness in print to the zeal of our proof-reading, but I may 
say that there were very few who did not owe something. As 
for the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, her syntax was such a 
snare to her that it sometimes needed the combined skill of all 
the proof-readers and the assistant editor to extricate her. I 
look back now with respectful amazement at my proficiency in 
the detecting the errors of the great as well as the little. 

Mrs. Stowe herself used to say that she left her verbs 


and nominatives to be brought together by her publisher ; 
and it must be owned that it never ruffled her in the least. 
She would be the last one of all the immortals to regret 
it, if Mr. Howells had ventured into details. 

When he went to Boston to assist in editing the At- 
lantic, all its contributors were New Englanders and 
dwelt in the region roundabout — " except for those New 
England men and women living in the splendid exile of 
New York.'* Thus it may be seen that Mr. Howells was 
already — or thinks he was — casting a wishful eye back 
to the metropolis ; and when he returned whence he had 
come he was to utter that famous gibe which still makes 
Boston snort. But if from the inner shrine of the 
Atlantic editorial room came treachery, from the same 
room a little later came atonement. It was in 1865 that 
Aldrich took up his permanent Boston residence as editor 
of Every Saturday. Within a short time Aldrich was 
writing Bayard Taylor, " I miss my few dear friends in 
New York — but that is all. There is a finer intellectual 
atmosphere here than in our city. The people of Boston 
are full-blooded readers, appreciative, trained. The 
humblest man of letters here has a position which he 
doesn't have in New York. To be known as an able 
writer is to have the choicest society opened to you. A 
knight of the quill here is supposed necessarily to be a 
gentleman. In New York — he's a Bohemian! Out- 
side of his personal friends he has no standing." This 
last Mr. Howells had said also, but still his roue heart 
perversely sang " Better fifty years of Europe thaaa cycle 
of Cathay." And the coarser siren kept on beckoning 
him until he took the cotton from his ears. Not so Al- 
drich. " Though I am not Boston, I am Boston-plated," 
he began to say. Later we find him writing to Stedman, 
echoing (or was it anticipating?) almost the very essence 
and structure of his predecessor's cavil. " In the six 
years I have been here I have found seven or eight hearts 
so full of noble things that there is no room in them for 
such trifles as envy and conceit and insincerity. I didn't 


find more than two or three such hearts in New York, 
and I lived there fifteen years. It was an excellent school 
for me — to get out of! I wonder that I got out of it 
with my English tolerably correct." But the final amends 
were yet to come. Mr. George Gary Eggleston in his 
Recollections of a Varied Life says that he made Al- 
drich the offer for Bryant of the literary editorship of the 
New York Evening Post. This position the old gentle- 
man considered the very highest literary crown America 
had to offer. Aldrich wrote back that he knew it was in 
every way to be coveted, and added, " But what, my dear 
Eggleston, can the paper offer to compensate one for hav- 
ing to live in New York ? " And thus, finally, was Bos- 
ton avenged! 

But to return to Mr. Howells's account of his un- 
splendid expatriation in the colder light of the Northern 
frontier ! " The editors had been eager to discover any 
outlying literature," he says, " but very little good writ- 
ing was done beyond the borders of New England. The 
literary theories we accepted were Boston theories, the 
criticism we valued was Boston criticism. New England 
has now ceased to be a nation in itself, but that was some- 
thing like a national literature and Ticknor and Fields 
embodied New England literature. James R. Osgood, 
who became afterward the head of the house, forecast in 
his bold enterprise the change from a New England to 
an American literary situation." 

But just about this time Stedman in New York was 
writing Taylor : " The Boston house, naturally, drive 
apace every steed that wins a heat. But when a man's 
pace is slow, though sure, they don't make much of him 
unless he is * in their midst.' (That phrase is bad Eng- 
lish.) They never ask me for anything, and have de- 
clined what little I have sent them. I have this week hit 
upon a magnificent subject, but when done, I shall not 
have the courage to send it to the Atlantic. Besides, I 
don't want it to appear in the late spring, and I do want 
the money for it ; and Scrihne/s, Harper's or the Galaxy 


will use it at once and pay me double what Boston would." 
So there were two sides to this matter. The letter also 
shows that J. T. F. had not yet begun, in all cases at 
least, to pay on acceptance — but possibly that was only 
his little trick to discourage New Yorkers ! 

New Yorkers were, at any rate, beginning to feel that 
they were not being treated with reciprocity. They had 
been complaining for years of the Yankeeisation of their 
own periodicals, and now the chief literary magazine of 
the country was taking on the aspect of a closed shop. 
" Nearly the whole Atlantic force are permanent or sum- 
mer residents," said a Newport newspaper proudly in 
1866. Yet the elect of the whole country was support- 
ing the magazine, grumbled New York, or it wouldn't 
have been able to get along. " It was so strange to dip 
down in these little Western towns and find an audience 
all ready and always readers of the Atlantic, so glad to 
see me," wrote Higginson on his lecture-tour. " I have 
just realised what a clientele the magazine has." The 
Atlantic had become a national institution, it is true, but 
its pillars were all Bostonians. And New Yorkers began 
gleefully to prognosticate the usual results of inbreeding. 
But the magazine went serenely on its mission of localis- 
ing America; it even Bostoned Bret Harte! Its inten- 
tion was to plant a Bunker Hill monument in every remote 
hamlet. It became the fashion to smile at the Boston- 
esqueness of the Atlantic. The city smiled itself, but with 
fond maternal joy. Twenty years afterward, about 1892, 
Mr. John Adams Thayer summed up the whole matter. 
He had an idea (nobody asked him to have it!) of pok- 
ing up the Atlantic: he tried it and came back to New 
York feeling as Mrs. Partington must have felt when 
she tried to sweep it out with a broom. " A great pub- 
lishing house was behind it, with a list of books of 
famous old-time authors as well as newer favourites. As 
a business proposition for the book end, the idea was 
sound if, as I planned, the magazine could be increased 
from its small circulation of less than twenty-five thou- 


sand copies up into the hundred thousands. [Mr. Thayer 
had learned to talk thus big in the office of the Ladies' 
Home Journal in sleepy Philadelphia.] To do this the 
Atlantic would have to be materially changed and illus- 
trated. [The italics are the affrighted scribe's.] The 
delightful gentleman who has been for so many years the 
head of the old house was interested, but to change the 
magazine in any way — never ! It was Boston." 

In the long meanwhile, however, some other things had 
not gone on unchanged. " In 1874," says Trowbridge, 
" the proverbial thunderbolt out of a clear sky struck 
the publishing house. The sky was not so clear as it had 
seemed to many of us who were enjoying the fancied 
security of that hospitable roof. Mr. Fields retired from 
the firm in 1871 and Mr. J. R. Osgood (who, like Mr. 
Fields, had risen from the ranks in business) became head 
of the house. He was able, honourable, large-hearted but 
aggressive and self-confident; and under his leadership 
the concern assumed enterprises involving hazards which 
the other's more conservative judgment could hardly have 
sanctioned. Of these, I remember most about Every 
Saturday, which began and ran some time as a modest 
reprint of selections from foreign periodicals ; but which 
the new firm changed to a large illustrated sheet, designed 
to rival Harper's Weekly in popular favour." 

" Long before this reaches you," Aldrich wrote to 
Bayard Taylor, " you will have heard of the miserable 
changes that have taken place in the Corner Bookstore. 
Scribner and Company have bought and swallowed our 
Young Folks, and the Atlantic and Every Saturday be- 
long to Houghton. [This was Hurd and Houghton, 
which later united with J. R. Osgood and Company.] 
Howells has gone with the Atlantic permanently, I fancy; 
and I am to edit Every Saturday for one year, and then 
I am on the town. After being so closely connected with 
Osgood for nearly nine years, you may imagine that I 
feel as if I had been cut adrift." 

Thus was New York avenged and Boston might have 


called to her as Cassius to the spirit of Caesar, " Even by 
the sword that killed thee." For Stedman says that Os- 
good told him that if he had followed his suggestion and 
established an Atlantic Weekly in New York instead of 
trying to outdo Harper's Weekly by making a pictorial of 
Every Saturday it would have saved him one hundred 
and twenty-five thousand dollars. To Bayard Taylor, 
Stedman wrote as follows : 

You have noticed the remarkable changes in the ownership 
of the Atlantic and Every Saturday. Probably I was the only 
writer not surprised by them. You know it has long been one 
of my theories that the sceptre would come back from Boston 
to New York after a time, just as it did from Edinburgh to 
London. The metropolis, many-sided, all-embracing, is the 
true centre; and the provincial genius of the elder Boston 
writers has raised up no successors. Two years ago I saw the 
time was close at hand, cut loose (mostly) from the Atlantic, 
and have thrown all my advice, influence, work, in favour of 
the " coming monthly," Scrihner's. This entirely apart for my 
abiding friendship for my publisher Osgood. The Atlantic has 
steadily declined, despite the most friendly and extended Trib- 
une aid, for several years past in authority and circulation. The 
contrary process has obtained in New York. Literary society 
here, also, is becoming knit together, rich, catholic — a veritable 

Yet of the Atlantic it may still be said, as was once 
thundered of Massachusetts, " There she stands ! " 

The record of Longfellow's connection with the At- 
lantic is meagre. On April 29, 1857, he writes: 
" Lowell was here last evening to interest me in a new 
magazine. I told him I would write for it if I wrote for 
any magazine." A week later he notes that he attended 
the famous dinner of which Phillips speaks, " to talk 
about the new magazine he wishes to establish. It will 
no doubt be done ; though I am not so eager about it as the 
rest." In 1859 he wrote: "The Atlantic flourishes. 
Holmes is in full blast at his Breakfast-Table. Dined 
with the Atlantic Club. The Atlantic is not the Saturday, 
though many members belong to both. They are the 
writers for the Atlantic Monthly — Dined with the At- 


lantic Club at the Revere. Mrs. Stowe was there with 
a green wreath on her head, which I thought very becom- 
ing. Also Miss Prescott, who wrote the story In a 
Cellar. One of the publishers of the magazine is a good 
teller of funny stories." In 1866: "Here is our good 
Fields frightened at the length of the Dante letters. I 
confess it is a quality of food not adapted to the great 
mass of magazine readers. But I trust the Atlantic has 
some judicious readers who like to have some timber in 
the building and not all clapboards." In 1871 he wrote 
to Fields : " I come back to my old wish and intention 
of leaving the magazine when you do." 

No American author has ever been more a part of a 
magazine than Holmes was a part of the Atlantic. Mr. 
Howells said that Holmes " made the magazine ; " it may 
be added that, in a certain way, the magazine made him. 
Underwood wrote years afterward in the old Scrihner's 
that the literary success of the magazine was due to 
Holmes more than to any other man ; the Autocrat, said 
he, was the only entirely new creation in its pages, and 
readers always turned to it first; excepting the Noctes 
Ambrosianae of John Wilson, no series of papers on 
either side of the ocean secured such attention during the 
entire century. After the Autocrat came the Professor 
and the Poet and the novels. With two or three unim- 
portant exceptions. Holmes never afterward wrote for 
another m^agazine. In 1870 he wrote Fields, " You have 
now plenty of young blood for the Atlantic, and it is a 
question with me whether others cannot do better for you 
than I can. My preference, I do not hesitate to say, is 
for the Atlantic;'' in 1890 he wrote Mr. Houghton that 
he did not wish to listen to any outside temptations, 
" even when they come in so attractive a form as that of 
the Forum/' But not only did the Atlantic publish most 
of his work, it had given him his second wind. He had 
really abandoned writing when Lowell said he would ac- 
cept the editorship, though it ought to go to Holmes, 
only on condition that O. W. H. be the first contributor 


engaged. Without the magazine we should have had no 
Breakfast Table. " I, who felt myself outside of the 
charmed circle drawn around the scholars and poets of 
Cambridge and Concord, wondered somewhat when Mr. 
Lowell insisted upon my becoming a contributor. I 
looked at the old Portfolio and said to myself, ' Too late ! 
too late ! ' But Lowell woke me from a kind of literary 
lethargy in which I was half slumbering, to call me to ac- 
tive service." In 1879 at the breakfast given him by the 
Atlantic, he said that Lowell was the cause of his writing 
the Autocrat and that any pleasure his writings had given 
could be added to Lowell's own noble contributions to our 
literature. But the Breakfast Table series gave much be- 
sides pleasure. Even now one may catch in remote rural 
communities the ground-swell of the storm they made 
in conventionally devout minds. Much water has flowed 
under bridges since the Breakfast Table fluttered the 
orthodox by the impious food it was serving up and the 
Guardian Angel cost the Atlantic a wholesale loss 
of subscribers on account of its atheism. Holmes wrote 
to Motley in 1861 : "But oh! such a belabouring as I 
have had from the so-called ' evangelical ' press, for the 
last two or three years almost without intermission! 
There must be a great deal of weakness and rottenness, 
when such extreme bitterness is called out by such a good- 
natured person as I can claim to be in print." 

Earlier in the same letter he says : " The magazine 
which you helped to give a start to has prospered, since 
its transfer to Ticknor and Fields. I suppose they 
may make something directly by it, and, as an adver- 
tising medium, it is a source of great indirect benefit 
to them. No doubt you will like to hear in a few 
words about its small affairs. I suppose I have made 
more money and reputation out of it than anybody 
else, on the whole. I have written more than anybody 
else, at any rate. Miss Prescott's stories have made her 
quite a name. Wentworth Higginson's articles have also 


been very popular. Lowell's critical articles and political 
ones are always full of point, but he has been too busy 
as editor to write a great deal. As for the reputations 
that were totites faites, I don't know that they have gained 
or lost a great deal by what their owners have done for 
the Atlantic.'' In 1879 the magazine gave him a birthday 
breakfast, on December 3d, " as of August 29th," writes 
he quaintly ; " and every one of any account came or re- 
gretted." In a letter to Mr. Howells complimenting him 
upon his management of this affair, Holmes said : " You 
have brought us an outside element which Boston needed 
and have assimilated all that Boston could do for you (if 
you can be said to have needed anything) so completely 
that it seems as if you had cheated some native Esau out 
of his birthright." And finally, in 1885 — the whirligig 
of time just reversing the earlier situation — he wrote 
thus to Lowell : " Calling on Mr. Houghton this morn- 
ing on business of my own, he expressed the strongest 
wish that you could be induced to write for the Atlantic. 
I told him that I supposed you had received or would re- 
ceive liberal offers from the New York periodicals. He 
does not want to bid against other publishers ; but, to use 
his own language, it would not be money that would 
stand in the way of your writing for the Atlantic. How 
much he or others would pay you I do not know. ["I 
have just had an offer," Lowell wrote to Gilder in 1890, 
" of a thousand dollars for a short paper of reminis- 
cences! " In 1876 he had written to Robert Carter that 
a newspaper had asked him for his Fourth of July Ode, 
apparently as a gift. " I can't afford to give it away. 
The Atlantic — to which I have promised what I may 
write — will pay me $300 for it." From this it will be 
seen that Lowell's market-rate, on his return from the 
Court of St. James, had suffered a sea-change.] But I 
do know that Mr. Houghton has treated me very liberally, 
that he is an exact man of business, that he takes a pride 
in the Atlantic, which I suppose in a literary point of 


view is recognised as the first of the monthHes, and that 
he is very anxious to see you again in the pages of the 
old magazine you launched so long ago." 

But if O. W. H. had by his contributions whistled up 
a storm of protest from his more orthodox readers, Mrs. 
Stowe in 1869 lashed the whole English-speaking world 
into a veritable simoon. To the mind of the younger 
generation the Atlantic may carry no such tempestuous 
associations — there are, possibly, those who look upon it 
as a harnessed and fireside force, in comparison with 
later magazines more avowedly volcanic. Maybe it has 
simmered down since then or we have simmered up. But, 
at the time, no one ever caused more world-wide ripples 
than Mrs. Stowe when she threw a stone into the sedate 
Atlantic (when it wasn't looking). Here are some of the 
documents in the case. 

Mrs. Stowe to Holmes: Lady Byron told me, with almost 
the solemnity of a death-bed confession, the history which I 
have embodied in an article to appear in the Atlantic Monthly. 
I have been induced to prepare it by the run which the Guiccioli 
book is having, which is from first to last an unsparing attack 
on Lady Byron's memory by Lord Byron's mistress. When 
you have read my article I want, not your advice as to whether 
the main facts shall be told, for on this point I am so resolved 
that I frankly say advice would do me no good. But you might 
help me with your delicacy and insight; to make the manner 
of telling more perfect, and I want to do it as wisely and well 
as such story can be told. — Holmes to Mrs. Stowe: In the 
midst of all the wild and irrelevant talk about the article, I felt 
as if there was little to say until the first fury of the storm had 
blown over. . . . That Lady Byron believed and told you the 
story will not be questioned by any but fools and malignants. 
... It is to be expected that public opinion will be more or 
less divided as to the expediency of this revelation, — Holmes to 
Motley: The first thing I naturally recur to is the Byron arti- 
cle. In your letter of August 4th you say there will be a row 
about it. Hasn't there been ! Great as I expected the excite- 
ment to be, it far exceeded anything I had anticipated. The 
prevailing feeling was that of disbelief of the facts. The gen- 
eral opinion was strongly adverse to the action of Mrs. Stowe. 
The poor woman, who, of course, meant to do what she thought 
an act of supreme justice, has been abused as a hyena, a ghoul, 


and by every name and in every form, by the baser sort of 
papers. The tone of the leading ones has been generally severe, 
but not brutal. I might have felt very badly about it, if I had 
had any responsibility in counselling Mrs. S. to publish, but 
she had made up her mind finally an'd had her article in type 
before I heard or knew anything of it. 

Holmes says that Mr. Fields was absent in Europe, and 
his sub-editor, fearing to lose Mrs. Stowe as a contributor 
altogether, assented to her request to print the Byron 
paper. This looks as if the subject of Mrs. Stowe's fu- 
ture contributions had come up in the interview when the 
propriety of the article was questioned. That Mrs. 
Stowe was prepared to go any length may be gathered 
from the facts that Lady Byron's story contained no evi- 
dence whatever — it was only an inference, and was un- 
supported except by Lady Byron's word; and that she 
ventured, without further confirmation, to rest the case 
upon a story she had heard thirteen years before; and 
had held in abeyance until the publication of the Guiccioli 
Memoirs and an article on them in Blackwood's had 
stung her to action. " At first I thought the world's peo- 
ple had lost their senses," Mrs. Stowe wrote raptly, of 
the storm her article made ; but she went serenely on the 
tenor of her way. " She always spoke and behaved," 
wrote Mrs. Fields in loving indulgence, "as if she recog- 
nised herself to be an instrument breathed upon by the 
Divine Spirit." And this unquestionably simplifies con- 

Considering that Mrs. Stowe's influence more than that 
of any other person had inaugurated the Atlantic and that 
its second editor and publisher was so great a champion 
of the cause of woman, the attitude of the magazine to- 
ward its female contributors in the matter of dinners was 
rather remarkable. The Atlantic was always feeding 
itself, but its ladies were not even allowed in at dessert. 
Lowell, it is remembered, once declined a poem of Mrs. 
Howe's with the assertion that no woman could write a 
poem. He said, however, he would gladly accept a prose 


article; and this would have seemed lamentable to Haw- 
thorne, to whom " all ink-stained women were detestable." 
The latter had written to Ticknor in 1854 from abroad : 

America is now wholly given over to a d d mob of scrib- 
bling women, and I should have no chance of success while the 
public taste is occupied with their trash. But I have since been 
reading Ruth Hall and I must say I enjoyed it a good deal. 
The woman writes as if the Devil were in her; and that is the 
only condition under which a woman ever writes anything worth 
reading. Generally women write like emasculated men, and 
are only to be distinguished from male authors by greater fee- 
bleness and folly; but when they throw off the restraints of 
decency and come before the public stark naked, as it were, 
then their books are sure to possess character and value. Can 
you tell me anything about this Fanny Fern? If you meet her, 
I wish you would let her know how much I admire her. 

But times had greatly changed during Hawthorne's 
day, and were to change still more. Boston, which had 
been horrified when Mrs. Howe first attended a woman's 
rights convention, had now so long cradled the Woman's 
Journal that outlying cynics muttered darkly at the whole- 
sale conversion of her blue-stockings into bloomers. But 
though the feminist movement had now manifestly begun, 
the double standard of morality as to public dinners still 
existed; and equal suffrage for women at the table was 
thought to mean the banishment of those twin vices, wine 
and tobacco. When the magazine was sixteen years old 
and passed to its present publishers, a very large dinner ^ 
was given, — but no ladies were invited. The next great \ 
Atlantic dinner was on the occasion of Whittier's seventi- 
eth birthday, in 1877; but no ladies were bidden to be 
present at " the most notable company ever gathered to- 
gether in this country within four walls." The dinner 
for this lifelong woman's suffragist was for men only. 
But there was a slight indication that the embargo was 
to be lifted — for a few ladies were indulgently admitted 
after the meal was over, to help applaud the speeches. 
This proved to be the entering wedge. For it happened 
that some ultimate outpost and last relay of civilisation, 


Michigan or farther, published on the subject a gay article 
at which Boston smiled but her heart was sad. Mrs. 
Stowe, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Gail Hamilton, Helen 
Hunt, Rebecca Harding Davis — brilliant pens that had 
contributed to make the Atlantic what it was — all figured 
in the scandalous work of lese majeste as bitterly protest- 
ing against their exclusion. An admonition from Loch- 
invar has ever been intolerable to Boston — and Mr. 
Houghton saw the error of his inherited way. At his 
next feast there was no sex-line drawn. He had learned 
the lesson which Boston herself first began to teach 
awakening America, that a sex-line is a danger line. 
One-third of the one hundred guests at the Holmes break- 
fast were ladies; and Mr. Houghton made a sheepish 
apology. He said that he had always wanted them but 
had been too bashful to ask them before. And his next 
feast was in honour of a lady! But this lady, Mrs. 
Stowe, had to wait until her seventieth birthday for the 
Atlantic to make the amende honour able for its masculine 
misbehaviour at its first dinner to which ladies were in- 



The activity of the little towns in publishing magazines 
dt the beginning of the nineteenth century was only paral- 
leled toward its close by the countless imitations of the 
Chap Book. And for the same reason. Their propri- 
etors wanted to express themselves and had no other way 
to do it. In this ^-espect the early crop of editors was 
not as mistaken as the later, it is true, but the recorders 
of their aspirations were as brief. Few things are more 
surprising in the history of our magazines than the num- 
ber of inconspicuous villages which attempted even am- 
bitious ones. So it had been in New England, and in the 
Middle States ; so it was in the Southern States ; and so 
it was to be in the West. No one guessed, in a new and 
rapidly growing district, which way the cat was going to 
jump. Any village courthouse might some morning find 
itself an Acropolis; and the printer a place side by side 
with Franklin and Thomas among the achieving pioneers ! 
The States were full of such visionary villages, and of 
printers who willingly if not gladly went down into their 
own pockets for the cost of publication. 

The first magazine in Maryland, in 1798, was such an 
acorn from which an oak was to have grown. In the 
course of two months, said the proprietor in closing, we 
will resume in the form of a monthly if five hundred 
subscribers can be procured. But where could so many 
be found in Frederick Town? The editor of The Hive, 
published in the village of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, might 
have informed the editor of The Key that their towns 
were too near together for each to become an Athens, 
and that Lancaster was clearly marked for the favoured 



one. The Child of Pallas, Devoted mostly to Belles- 
Lettres, published in Baltimore in 1800, guessed better 
than either of them as to the future greatness of its 
dwelling-place, but the growth proved commercial rather 
than spiritual (as an Athenian might say). Sparks, in 
his article on Baltimore in the North American, 1825, 
which practically introduced the city to the North, said 
that the enterprising spirit of its people was much more 
energetic in its combined and continued action than that 
of any other city of the United States. But though the 
centre of Roman Catholic wealth and culture (so much 
so that the Metropolitan, a Catholic monthly, styles her 
in 1830 the Rome of America), Beatrice Ironside thought 
she cared more for her pocket than her mind and her 
soul. The editor of The Companion (a mere man !) had 
given up his hopeless struggle for five hundred subscrib- 
ers, but Beatrice, who had been his assistant, announced 
that she would continue the journal herself under the 
name of The Observer. (Note how the gentle intimacy 
of the former title gives way to the emotionless alertness 
of the latter — can this be a forecast of feminism?) 
Beatrice the energetic thus taps Baltimore over its acqui- 
line nose with her lively pen : 

Oh, that mine enemy were editor of a Baltimore Miscellany, 
and were he anything less than iron, how quickly would all my 
wrongs be avenged. The attempt of a female to promote the 
cause of taste, literature, and morals would, it should seem, 
have been cherished with respect and forwarded with assistance 
and encouragement. But alas ! luckless Dame, not long were 
the illusions of thy fancy to deceive thee. Do the sheets of the 
Observer contain only dissertations on morality and selections 
from the best authors, however judicious, every one exclaims 
how dull, how insupportable; on the other hand, does Beatrice 
endeavour to enliven the page by using the arm of ridicule to 
combat folly, a thousand divinities suppose themselves pointed 
at. Every illustration of character that Beatrice has used has, 
by the folly of some and the black malignity of others, been ap- 
propriated to persons far from her imagination. If Beatrice 
refuses to embellish the Observer with the sublimities of the 
sons of the dullest of dull prose who forcibly scramble up Par- 


nassus, they become her sworn and inveterate enemies. Thus 
is poor Beatrice assailed in every quarter; every weapon is 
raised against her, except wit ; and of that, Heaven be praised, 
she has no very heavy cause of complaint. Oh, that mine 
enemy were editor to a miscellany in the liberal, the enlight- 
ened, the polished city of Baltimore ! ! ! 

Yet, in spite of this delightful Beatrice, Baltimore was 
for the first quarter of the century the only literary- 
centre, such as it was, south of Philadelphia. During 
that period it published at least twelve magazines; and 
it had a literary club, The Delphian, which issued a 
periodical, the Red Book, and numbered among its mem- 
bers Neal, Sparks, John Pierpont, Francis Scott Key, 
and William Wirt; and, lastly, it made the Athenian 
attempt which distinguished, at one time or another, all 
the Northern triplicate of cities — that of capturing 
every household by an attractive union of politics and 
fashion-plates. Thus it had decided claims to recogni- 
tion. Its chief enduring claim, however, was of so 
pedestrian a nature that it has generally been overlooked. 
Yet Niks' Weekly Register ^vas an extraordinary achieve- 
ment. It was published from 1811 to 1849! Once, in 
the prime of its long life, it migrated to Washington for 
three years; and it retired to Philadelphia for a nice 
quiet place to die in (and during its final year there it 
was only half alive, since its animation was suspended for 
three months of that period!). "Containing political, 
historical, geographical, scientifical, statistical^ economi- 
cal, and biographical documents, essays, and facts, to- 
gether with notices of the arts and manufactures and a 
record of the events of the times " — you would scarcely 
suppose that its editor would have found the spare 
moments for a series of humorous essays entitled Quill 
Driving (although you may guess the title was not en- 
tirely an inspiration) and a book of importance on the 
Principles and Acts of the Revolution. So important 
did his generation find the Weekly Register that a General 


Index to the first twelve volumes was published in t8i8; 
and so valuable did a succeeding generation find it as a 
contribution to American history, that it reprinted the 
first thirty-two volumes. Well might two American 
towns be named in honour of the father of so monumental 
a record! Beatrice Ironside ceased to issue a weekly 
repertory of original and selected essays in verse and 
prose ere Niles could record her as one of the events of 
the times, but the year 1806-07 glitters more brightly for 
the scribe who places this wreath on her unknown brow 
than all the period covered so painstakingly by his stu- 
pendous register. Did she make much ado about nothing 
when she smartly berated Benjamin Bickerstafif, for say- 
ing that the sun of The Observer had set when he left its 
pages in a huff — he, the oracle of most of the little misses 
of the town? Opera-boufTe Boadicea amongst those for- 
gotten beaux and belles, and first of editresses, hail! 
Not many stars in your pamphlet era were dancing like 
that one under which you were born. 

Thirty years after in time, and a whole century in 
style, another Southern woman followed her example. 
But Mrs. Anne Royall inaugurated a new kind of 
paper — the Town Topics of its year — when she estab- 
lished a weekly devoted to gossip of the sayings and 
doings of men and women of her day. It was not in- 
appropriately named The Huntress, and Washington af- 
forded her an abundance of prey. So relentlessly did she 
stalk it that John Quincy Adams called her " the virago- 
errant in enchanted armour," the latter part of the phrase 
referring doubtless to the immunity which chivalry was 
fancied to dictate. No fire-eater fought any duels with 
Mrs. Royall, it is true ; but, on the other hand, while her 
censure was no more vindictive and personal than was 
most men's of the time, her praise had a saccharinity 
which would have stumped even the most grandiloquent 
masculine pen. 

When you went farther South than Baltimore and 


Washington, you jumped all at once into another civilisa- 
tion. It was that of a landed aristocracy, says Professor 

The settlers lived far apart, and the many rivers allowed 
them even to dispense to a great extent v^ith roads. To the 
private schools at rich gentlemen's houses the poor seldom 
had access, and a free school system did not exist. So the 
newspaper, the next great educating power, found uncongenial 
soil in the Southern Colonies. Literature was thought to be 
undertaken only by those who had been a failure in law, poli- 
tics, or the Church. All over the South, even in the smaller 
towns, were coteries of men and women who lived in an atmos- 
phere of wit and learning; but the eighteenth century reigned 
supreme, and artificially vitiated everything. 

In 1834, an article in the Charleston Southern Review 
sought to account for Southern literary sterility by the 
imperfect education of the people. In Colonial times 
Charleston had been a world by itself, and even now it 
seemed immeasurably remote. " An awful retribution 
hangs over the Boston book-sellers," wrote Samuel Gil- 
man to Sparks in 1824, " for their vile neglect of sending 
periodical publications to Charleston. We never get them 
till more than a month after their publication." An- 
other Charlestonian wrote him : " I will readily under- 
take to procure for you the works which may appear in 
this State and Georgia. You are aware that our press 
is a very sterile one. Of periodical publications we have 
one, the Southern Christian Register, an Episcopalian 
magazine." But considering the scantiness of her read- 
ing public, the Charleston press was only comparatively 
sterile. Indeed, she had been derisively called by less 
ambitious neighbours the graveyard of magazines. To 
this jest she could afford to reply calmly that in order 
to die one must first have been born. At any rate she 
had brought forth at least ten first-class magazines, and 
also the one professional man of letters in the South — 
even if poverty had obliged him, patriotic as he was, to 
send most of his goods to the North, where they could 
afford to pay for them. William Gilmore Simms was 


connected with over half these attempts. The Cosmo- 
politan, An Occasional proved to deserve its epithet, and 
the Magnolia or Southern Appalachian struck no roots; 
but the Southern Reviezv, in 1828, dragged its slow 
length along for four years. It was perhaps the most 
perfect example America afforded of that scholarly con- 
tempt for popular demand which the English reviews 
had set native classicists to admiring. The men are not 
living who have read it throughout, but such as have 
emerged from its covers come up gasping their surprise 
that an unsettled and isolated district could have been 
thought capable of producing in sufficient numbers the 
savants who would have found such fare palatable. 
Even the stately North American had not ventured to be 
so exclusively classical or scientific. Nor did the South- 
ern Review make, apparently, the slightest attempt to 
secure general attention. Enough for it that able schol- 
ars all over the South were deeply interested in the 
subscriptions they received in return for their valuable 
articles ! But in spite of their thus highly paid services, 
Legare, its editor for two years, had often to furnish half 
the contents. Consequently, when he went to represent 
the country at Brussels, the magazine collapsed. 

In 1845 Simm's Southern and Western Monthly issued 
twelve numbers, filled for the most part by the proprietor, 
and was important enough to get itself purchased by the 
Literary Messenger of Richmond. In 1849 he became 
editor of the Southern Quarterly Reznew, which, es- 
tablished in 1842 in New Orleans, had moved to Charles- 
ton. This magazine was founded " to protect the rights 
if our Southern soil from invasion and to promote the 
Luse of learning, arts and literature among us. But 
iside from its political creed it would have none other — 
ibove all it would express no theological opinion." 
Nevertheless, though Charleston held as hotly to this 
creed as New Orleans, the review had run down; and 
on account of his great local reputation Simms was en- 
gaged to revive it at a salary of one thousand a year. 


Though Simms was not an apostle of its creed, he was 
for a time successful in floating it. " In two years," 
says Professor Trent, " he had made a very respectable 
publication out of a worthless one, comparing not un- 
favourably with its Boston contemporary. He got almost 
none of his salary, but from paying nothing to his con- 
tributors he advanced to the almost unheard of extrava- 
gance of paying the best of them a dollar a page. It is 
true that the publishers often dishonoured the drafts 
drawn on them by eager contributors, but still some pay- 
ments were made. He himself got part of his salary in 
the free printing of his books and pamphlets. He used 
his social acquaintance to enlarge the subscription list." 
Thus altogether, he was a very valuable editor, espe- 
cially if he himself wrote for nothing. But as he was 
writing novels, articles for other magazines, an intermin- 
able correspondence, and lecturing from city to city like 
any modern Chautauquan during the seven years of his 
editorship, it does not seem as if even his very remark- 
able energy could have found much time for contributing 
to its pages. In 1854, the year before he relinquished it, 
he said it had readers in every State and in the three great 
European capitals. It lasted only one year after his 
departure, but its demise was assisted by a fever and a 

Long before this, however, a former associate editor 
had doubled on the tracks of the magazine and founded 
one of his own in New Orleans. Its literary interest was 
confessedly secondary to ** defending the rights and de- 
veloping the resources of the West, the South, and the 
Southwest.'' The Commercial Review, 1846, had learned 
from the Quarterly how few were the Southern readers 
for an exclusively literary periodical ; nevertheless it kept 
literature always well in sight. After many struggles, 
De Bow was able to announce in the sixth, volume the 
largest circulation and the strongest influence in the South. 
But this did not interfere with a temporary suspension 
or his tortuous progress through no less than six New 


Series. His experience found an indignant voice in 1855, 
" Is it not a notorious fact that every Southern author, 
editor, or compiler who has had the temerity to try the 
experiment of appealing to that dernier resort, Southern 
patronage, has been compelled to pay the piper of his 
patriotism. How generously we continue to patronise 
Harper and Blackwood, Godey and Graham, and the 
quarterlies of the North, while the Southern Quarterly 
is in the very act of breathing its last gasp and De Bow's 
Monthly reduced to appeal for its just dues." Still 
De Bozv's, more successful than its neighbour, not only 
maintained the spark of life by continuous gasping, but 
actually began to find the process salutary. The year 
before the war saw it flourishing; but the next year much 
diminished the advertising it had built up, and the scarcity 
of paper compelled a smaller type. In 1853 the proprie- 
tor had been appointed head of the Census Department 
in Washington, and had for eighteen months edited the 
periodical from there. He thought he could do the same 
thing from the Rebel capital when he moved there on 
service for the new government. But at last the sturdy 
proprietor was unable to make both ends meet, in a geo- 
graphical and a pecuniary sense as well, and he yielded 
to fate. Immediately after the war he bobbed up in- 
domitably with another New Series, but the old war- 
horse was now making his last charge ; and his periodical 
soon gave up the fight for literature and became entirely 

He, like the other editors of the South, was seeking 
valorously to do the impossible — to create a sufficient 
reading public out of an uneducated people. The three 
magazines described had the largest circle of readers to 
be reached, they gave a voice to the best writers of the 
South, and they had great part in moulding the issues 
that ended in war. There was abundant literary activ- 
ity, if only there had been some market for it. Even 
in the decade before the war there were seventeen maga- 
zines started, and Russell's added another to the long 


procession in Charleston alone. The editors, however, 
could scarcely live on each other's patronage ; readers were 
widely dispersed under the plantation system; and even 
had the periodicals been readable to others than those 
stimulated by motives of local patriotism, Northern people 
were not paying money to hear that the North under the 
farce of the Union — as even so unimpassioned a periodi- 
cal as the Southern Quarterly said — " threatens to crush 
us beneath its unholy power." 

It was largely because the Southern Literary Messenger 
was less sectional that it became the most successful maga- 
zine of the South. But, like the others, it got only 
starvation diet at home. In the fourth number — as we 
read in Minor's admirable digest of its files — the editor 
admits some of the contents are not up to the standard, 
but his aim is to call forth the undeveloped talents of the 
Southern people; yet he is compelled to announce that 
he has received more complimentary notice in the North 
than in the South outside his own State. The number 
of contributions and contributors from the North is 
striking. The second proprietor asserted at once that it 
was not intended to make the work local, but it should 
never cease to be Southern ; and a home enterprise should 
have home support. The Messenger in its twenty-first 
year informed its friends that it had now become the 
oldest living periodical except the Knickerbocker, which 
was its senior by but six months; yet for years past it 
had met with the most meagre patronage, and unless its 
means were enlarged must perish. It notes in 1858 that 
Putnam's spiteful Monthly had gone where the woodbine 
twineth, but the rising Atlantic is decidedly anti-Southern. 
The next year the editor says that the Messenger has 
been much less sectional in its literary works than the 
Northern magazines and that it has been just and im- 
partial to Northern writers. As Mrs. Sigourney had 
written for the very first number, so Donald G. Alitchell 
and Thomas Bailey Aldrich had graced the latest ones. 

The accusation of sectionalism, of course, was rife on 


both sides. It could not have been otherwise in the later 
years. But Richmond had begun it early. The National 
Magazine, 1799-1800, had said: " Sixty-six subscribers 
from Connecticut leads us into the region of wonders. 
This is the State which sends to Congress seven of the 
most bullying servile satellites that tremble at the nod 
of John Adams. It looks as if the people of Connecticut 
were beginning to think for themselves." Yet " the dis- 
gusting New England assumption of all the decency and 
all the talent " which Poe said was rampant in Griswold's 
Poets and Poetry of America is, at this distance, difficult 
to perceive. Talent was not abundant in the then ante- 
bellum literature of the South, but when it was to be dis- 
cerned by eyes that had no reason to be unduly inquisitive 
it did not go unrecognised — as Simms and Poe and 
Augusta Evans could vouch. Not unrepresentative in 
its temperate tone was this notice in the Boston American 
Magazine of Useful Knowledge, 1834: 

We were surprised to find the last Southern Literary Messen- 
ger charging Mr. Bancroft with great mistakes in his History 
of the United States. The editor, who appears an able writer, 
even insinuates that they are designed. It cannot be admitted 
that Mr. Bancroft deliberately misstated facts, but that the 
editor is more fully acquainted with the history oi Virginia is 
not improbable. We were sorry to see this disposition and hope 
it will not be indulged. Errors and mistakes ought, indeed, to 
be corrected ; but even this should be done in a kind rather than 
in a harsh manner. Sectional or party feelings among literary 
men in different parts of the Union would be deeply deplored 
by every patriot, and we think by every high-minded scholar. 
We have had enough of this sort of warfare with England for 
fifty years past. We hope that nothing of the sort will arise be- 
tween the scholars and writers in different sections here. 

But if the periodical was more readable because less 
sectional, and being so had some support, however slight, 
from the North, the chief reason for its success was that 
Thomas White, its founder, was a thoroughly practical 
man both in the printing and the business offices. When 
he inaugurated it in 1834, he announced himself only 


printer and proprietor, and said that he would engage an 
editor when he could. His editorial work was done by 
others, at first gratuitously. R. H. Stoddard wrote : 

The first number consisted of thirty-two double column octavo 
pages, and its subscription price was five dollars. I am not 
prepared to say it was worse than the average of its time, but 
it was pretty bad. Two months passed before the second ap- 
peared, and it could hardly be said to be superior to its prede- 
cessor. The third number, which was extended to sixty-four 
pages, was instructive if not entertaining. By whatever stand- 
ard it was measured it was a failure. Mr. White had not been 
sustained by the leading writers of America further than by 
their good wishes, for not one of them had contributed a line to 
the luckless periodical. 

It bettered its promise, however, and in another year 
every one in the North had heard of its existence. White 
lived to manage it nine years. From 1847 to i860 John 
R. Thompson conducted it. The next year it began to 
pull out the Editor's Table in a way long since discovered 
to be symptomatic, but Augusta Evans kept up interest 
by her Beulah. The editor formally committed the 
periodical to secession and urged Virginia to follow suit. 
That it should have continued at all during the war is 
testimony to the vitality which had enabled it to starve 
for so long a period. The growing depreciation of 
money raised the price to five dollars (Thompson had re- 
duced it to three), then to eight, ten, and fifteen. Four 
double numbers were issued to make up for deficiencies ; 
a monthly record of the war filled many pages, but the 
magazine was forced to grow more and more eclectic. 
Finally, in 1865, without notice, it abandoned its magnifi- 
cent struggle. It had fought a good fight if it had not 
finished its course. No magazine but the North Ameri- 
can had yet lived so long as this thirty-year-old veteran, 
which weathered starvation to fall in actual battle at 
last. None had struggled with more adverse conditions ; 
none had so well or so lastingly preserved its tradition. 

It is said that " Horseshoe Robinson '* Kennedy, of j 
Baltimore, called White's attention to Poe. He had beei 


a most popular contributor to the first volume, and with 
the second became assistant editor. He got out just 
twelve numbers. " Before the end of the spring," says 
Minor, " the Knickerbocker and the Mirror had refused 
to exchange with the Messenger on account of his crit- 
iques. Even home papers began to speak of Poe's 
' queerities ' and the * regular cutting and slashing ' of 
his notices; and Poe had well begun his lifelong offen- 
sive." In January, 1837, there is a notice that " Mr. 
Poe's attention having been called in another direction, 
he will decline with the present number the editorial duties 
of the Messenger, but he will continue to furnish its 
columns with the effusions of his vigorous and popular 
pen." One of White's letters to Poe shows that it was 
his intemperance which severed his connection, but White 
seems to have been genuinely sorry to part with him and 
to have conducted the affair with all delicacy. He spoke 
highly of him in print, and he gave Poe a puff on his 
becoming editor of Burton's. Poe did not contribute 
until 1844, and the next year it was announced that he 
would again write critical articles. 

With his stories and his criticisms during the meagre 
two years of his connection with the magazine, Poe was 
certainly able to reflect that, as at no time in her previous 
literary history, he had put Richmond on the map. But 
the letter he wrote to Anthon when projecting the Stylus 
was somewhat flamboyant. " I had joined the Mes- 
senger, as you know, then in its second year, with seven 
hundred subscribers; and the general outcry was that 
because a magazine had never succeeded south of the 
Potomac, therefore a magazine never could succeed. Yet 
in spite of this and the wretched taste of the proprietor, 
which hampered and controlled me at all points, I in- 
creased the circulation in fifteen months to five thousand 
five hundred subscribers, paying an annual profit of ten 
thousand dollars when I left it." White would have 
been interested to find out where this enormous sum of 
money was going. In 1840 he was writing Griswold: 


"If you choose to give me your labours for one dollar 
and fifty cents a page Bourgeois type and two dollars for 
Minion, go ahead. And even at these rates, my dear 
friend, you will have to be most patient with me. In- 
deed, you will be obliged to suffer me to take my own 
time to pay this pittance." Had John R. Thompson 
known of this colossal increase in the subscription list 
due to the noise Poe was making in the North, perhaps 
he would not have complained so bitterly in a letter to 
Griswold that Southern literature could not succeed there. 
"The Messenger is almost gone," he said in 185 1. 
" Four years of hard labour find me in debt, my small 
patrimony exhausted." Yet the periodical had a greater 
literary reputation under him than under Poe, even if it 
did not elicit so much lively comment. Apparently, 
though without him it would not have bulked so large 
in contemporary mention, Poe neither made nor broke 
the Literary Messenger, 

In 1835 James Freeman Clarke wrote to Emerson from 
Cincinnati, " I send you the prospectus of a magazine 
which we are about getting under way, and which we 
mean to make the leading Western periodical. We in- 
tend to combine literature and other matters with religion, 
and make it generally attractive. We intend that it shall 
be Western in its character, and as free from merely 
conventional restrictions as may be." 

This was the Western Messenger, of which he shortly 
became editor ; and it then moved to Louisville so that he 
could have an eye on his pulpit and his periodical at the 
same time. In spite of many misgivings that his eye 
should be single unto the former, he remained editor until 
his departure for Boston ; and then the magazine migrated 
to its new editor, Channing, back in its first home; and 
travelled no more until it joined the choir invisible in 
1841. Curiously enough, no paper could have been more 
Bostonian than this which Clarke intended should be 
Western. For the conventional restrictions he wished to 
free it from were the same as those condemned by 


Emerson when contemplating his " organ of spiritual 
philosophy." Largely supported by Eastern Unitarians, 
in it the Transcendental movement which hung fire in 
Cambridge for five years found its first public voice; 
and, parent of the Dial, it expired soon after it had 
plucked its best feathers for its offspring. Emerson first 
appeared in print there ; Elizabeth Peabody and Margaret 
Fuller contributed , and its editors and assistants and eight 
others of its writers betook themselves to the Eastern 
messenger as the Western showed signs of running down. 
But it is worthy of remark that those transcendentalists 
that had sojourned in the West thought that some of the 
Eastern ecstasies were a little too rarefied for intelligi- 
bility. It is also noteworthy that in spite of its constant 
struggles with practical demands, the Western Messenger , 
though a voice crying in the wilderness, lasted about two 
years longer than the Eastern evangel. As few of the 
denizens of the Ohio Valley could have fathomed what 
the Messenger was driving at, it seems likely that most 
of its readers really bought it — which is more than can 
be said of the other. Both were distinguished by much 
original and stimulative writing of rare excellence. 
Distinctive, also, like everything transcendental, was 
Dial number two — which took the name (with unshod 
feet and hushed breath) some six years after Emerson's 
had ceased to measure the sunshine. It was grandchild 
of the Western Messenger, and also the extra-mural work 
of a minister. To it flocked the elder dialists with 
Emerson and Frothingham, although the editor himself 
contributed most of the pages. But let Moncure D. 
Conway tell his own story : 

My theological and philosophical heresies reported in the Ohio 
journals excited discussion far and near, and a magazine became 
inevitable. In January, i860, it appeared; the Dial, a monthly 
magazine for literature, philosophy, and religion. It was well 
received, had a large subscription list — the Jews especially in- 
teresting themselves. I was cheered by letters, and one brought 
me William Dean Howells. He noticed it in the Ohio State 


Journal, and said, "Until now Boston has been the only place 
in the land where the inalienable right to think what you please 
has been practised and upheld. If Cincinnati can place herself 
beside Boston on this serene eminence, she will accomplish a 
thing nobler than pork, sublimer than Catawba, more magnifi- 
cent than Pike's Opera House. It numbers among its contribu- 
tors some of the most distinguished thinkers of New England, 
and it seeks to bring out all the thinkers of the West." The 
Dial at the end of the first year was really slain by the Civil 
War several months in advance of its outbreak. We could not 
continue literary and philosophical discussions, and the war of 
pens and words between the anti-slavery people and the Union- 
ists who proposed pacification. Should the time arrive when 
the West is interested in its intellectual and religious history, 
the Dial will be found a fair mirror of the movements of 
thought in that period of extraordinary generous seeking. 

Period, indeed, of extraordinary generous seeking. 
It was in the journals of the Middle West that the anti- 
slavery agitation found its widest public utterance. 
Clarke in the first number of the Messenger had quoted 
twelve pages from W. S. Channing's Slavery, and con- 
demned both that system and the principles of the Aboli- 
tionists. On the destruction of the printing-press of 
Lovejoy at Alton, Illinois, and his death at the hands of 
the mob, he wrote passionately, " Abolitionism, its folly 
and its mischief, is not now the question. The question 
is of American freedom, of liberty of thought and speech, 
of the freedom of the press." That freedom was no- 
where so maintained as in the Ohio Valley. For reasons 
of policy the Eastern periodicals were barred to discus- 
sion of slavery. Even " on the serene eminence " of 
Boston, Lydia Maria Child and Julia Ward Howe were 
made to feel chill disapproval. The former had been 
systematically frozen out of the monthly press because 
of her views. " Life is growing too earnest with me to 
admit of my writing pretty stories," she wrote to Gris- 
wold, " and thus the effect of unpopularity is no incon- 
venience to me." The North American decidedly dis- 
couraged articles about slavery; the Knickerbocker 
printed only such views as were shared by gentlemen 


everywhere; the editor of Graham's wrote Longfellow 
in 1842 that the word slavery was never allowed to appear 
in a Philadelphia periodical, and that the publisher ob- 
jected to have even the name of his new book, Poems 
on Slavery, appear in the pages. Except in periodicals 
founded by the Abolitionists, and which were read 
only by Abolitionists, there was little freedom of the 
press in the popular sense. Such as existed was cradled 
in the Ohio Valley, perhaps more than elsewhere. The 
Richmond Examiner, the most famous Southern journal, 
was unique — North or South — for printing views 
which were not its own or might cost it subscribers. It 
gave extracts from the anti-slavery writers, especially 
Theodore Parker. Its freedom, by the way, was more 
praiseworthy than its logic, for it reconciled slavery with 
the most radical democracy on the ingenious ground that 
the blacks were not strictly human beings. 

Professor Stowe had written to his wife in 1840: 
" The little magazine (the Souvenir) goes ahead finely. 
You have it in your power by means of it to form the 
mind of the West for the coming generation." The task 
was peculiarly congenial to Mrs. Stowe, of course, but 
it was an ideal that actuated all the magazines of the 
West. In 1850 she wrote to him: "I can earn four 
hundred dollars a year by writing, but I don't want to 
feel that I must, and when weary with teaching the 
children and tending the baby and buying provisions and 
mending the dresses and darning stockings, sit down and 
write a piece for some paper." She had met Dr. Gamaliel 
Bailey when he and James Birney started the earliest anti- 
slavery paper in the West, the Cincinnati Philanthropist. 
Three times there his printing office had been sacked by 
a mob, but he issued the paper regularly. He was selected 
to direct a new Abolitionist organ in Washington, and 
he carried to the National Era ( 1847-1860) the spirit of 
extraordinary generous seeking he had found in Cincin- 
nati when he moved there from Baltimore. Mrs. Stowe 
wrote him in 1852 that she was planning a story that 


might run through several numbers. He applied for it 
at once and she began to send off weekly instalments of 
Uncle Tom's Cabin. The year's work brought her 
three hundred dollars. Dr. Bailey issued his periodical 
to subscribers on, apparently, a strictly cash basis. 
" Every paper is stopped at the beginning of each year 
where the subscription is not forwarded in advance," ran 
the announcement. Such barks had been heard before 
with no bites behind them, but the National Era seems to 
have meant what it said. In 1850 they were happy to 
announce as an occasional contributor, Nathaniel Haw- 
thorne, lately secured as a writer for Blackwoods. " He 
has favoured us with an article, which we now hold back 
for a week or two, only for the sake of those of our sub- 
scribers who under our terms have been cut off, but will 
doubtless speedily renew." The article was The Great 
Stone Face, presumably that for which the author wrote 
Griswold that Bailey had offered him one hundred dollars. 
The National Era of course, like every other periodical, 
got most of its contents for nothing, but to even its head 
liners it could not afford to pay so much later. Dr. 
Bailey wrote Gail Hamilton in 1856 that for two years 
he had been compelled to be rigidly economical. "If 
you can afford to wait, I will on the first week of next 
December," he said in February, " send you a remittance 
of fifty dollars, for which you may send me whatever you 
please in your best style of prose sketches at any time 
between this and then." When the time came he paid her, 
but said that his misfortunes still continued and he would 
be unable to make any offer for the future. The year 
after his sudden death Mrs. Bailey conducted the periodi- 
cal, but was forced to discontinue for lack of money — 
though none of the receipts, she said, had gone even to 
the support of her family. De Bow in New Orleans 
had sunk his private means and lived on twenty cents a 
day to start his magazine. Mrs. Bailey, delicately nur- 
tured, suffered privation to continue her husband's. The 
one was for slavery, the other against; and both were 


passionately desirous of bettering their world. Dr. 
Bailey was in one respect wiser than his corresponding- 
editor, Whittier ; at least one cannot imagine his Northern 
associate planning the astute social campaign which Con- 
way tells about: 

Dr. and Mrs. Gamaliel Bailey of the National Era had estab- 
lished in Washington a brilUant salon. At their soirees there 
were always distinguished guests from abroad, and Grace Green- 
wood was on these occasions quite equal to any of those French 
dames whose salons have become historic. The Bailey enter- 
tainments were of more importance in furthering anti-slavery 
sentiment in Washington than has been appreciated. The anti- 
slavery Senators were rarely met there, with the exception of 
Hale ; but their ladies often came. Nothing in Washington was 
more brilliant. The serious force and learning characteristic 
of the National Era could hardly prepare one to find in Dr. 
Bailey the elegant and polished gentleman that he was. He was 
the last man that one might imagine facing the mob that de- 
stroyed his printing press in Cincinnati. I do not wonder that 
the mob gathered for similar violence in Washington had 
quailed before his benign countenance and calm good-natured 
address to them. Mrs. Bailey, a tall, graceful, and intellectual 
woman, possessed all the nerve necessary to pass through these 
ordeals, while at the same time her apparent role was that of 
introducing young ladies into Washington society and shining 
as the centre of a refined social circle. 

This social quality they had had plenty of opportunity 
to exhibit in Cincinnati. Conway thought it in 1856, 
when he went there, the most cultivated of the Western 
cities. " Thanks to a third of the population being Ger- 
man, music flourished more than in any other city except 
Boston; there was a grand opera house which annually 
gave several weeks of opera or operatic concerts. Soci- 
ety was gay and its famous masquerade balls were as 
brilliant as those of Europe. Whitelaw Reid, Don Piatt, 
and Murat Halstead were writers on its distinguished 
daily press." By that time, too, it had made good its 
early-uttered claim to the title of Athens of the West 
in a longer list of short periodicals than any other city 
but its three Athenian predecessors. It had begun with 
the Literary Cadet, which had merged into the Western 



Spy, but both of these young hopefuls died early. They 
both struck a bugle note, however, which could scarcely 
have been duplicated in any of the Atlantic magazines 
of the time; and for the equal of that clear blast of 
mingled youth fulness and sophistication one would have 
to go back to the mushroom efforts of the Colonial and 
Revolutionary periods. It proved to be the Western 
tone. Crude as it was at its worst, it never lost that 
clarion ring which is the property of all new movements 
conscious of their destiny to supersede the old. 

Mr. W. H. Venable has made a specialised survey of 
the periodicals of the Ohio Valley. The first adventure 
entirely literary in Cincinnati was the Literary Gazette, 
1824. " This is the age of magazines, even sceptics must 
confess it; where is the town of much renown that has 
not one to bless it?" wrote one of the contributors to 
the opening number. The editor lamented, however, that 
his readers must part with the year and the Gazette to- 
gether; thus was furnished one more instance of the 
futility of all hopes founded on the anticipated encourage- 
ment of those intellectual exertions which contribute to 
soften and adorn life among a people whose highest 
ambition would seem to be exhausted in acquiring the 
means of support. The editor, like Clarke and Conway 
and others of a later harvest, drew on his personal ac- 
quaintance East, for we find in the magazine three poems 
of his boyhood's friend, Fitz Greene Halleck. In 1827 
Flint's Western Monthly Review was more successful, 
and lasted for three years. " We are a scribbling and a 
forth-putting people," said the Editor's Address. 
" Little as they have dreamed the fact in the Atlantic 
country, we have our thousand orators and poets." Like 
the other three Athenses, Cincinnati tried to catch with 
honey those households whose men remained impervious 
to the attractions of solider fare. The motto of the 
Western Lady's Book, 1840, was so rash in its blandish- 
ments that the periodical could not survive the first num- 
ber — " The Stability of Our Republic and the Virtue 


of Her Institutions is with the Ladies." Another of the 
same name followed ten years later, and almost rounded 
out a decade. In the beginning, under the name of the 
Western, its masculinity was not more diluted than usual ; 
but caught like all American editors by the golden lure 
of Godey's, the proprietor announced that because of the 
liberal patronage of the ladies it would become more 
exclusively a lady's book by introducing fashion-plates 
and music. The introduction of the latter was ever the 
stamp of the ultra refinement of the fair sex. Perhaps 
it was in this case meant to mollify the weaker of the 
weaker sex by a possession all their own, since they 
shared the fashion-plates with their stronger sisters. 
They might easily have taken umbrage at the attention 
given the latter — for " by special arrangement with the 
proprietor," Mrs. E. A. Aldrich, having suspended her 
woman's rights paper, the Genius of Liberty, wrote eight 
or ten pages a month advocating her savage views. In 
the " Fashions " the lion and the lamb could lie down 
together, but certainly no one who demanded the ballot- 
box would be expected to dally with the pianoforte. 
This policy of all things to all women was worthy of a 
longer shift. By far the most extensive and expensive 
literary journal was the Ladies' Repository and Gather- 
ings of the West, says Mr. Venable. (Whither have such 
titles fled and on what frontier will ever again exist the 
psychology that brought them forth in pain and heavi- 
ness?) "Started nine years before the first number 
of Harper's, it was almost the only Western magazine 
that was well-backed and supported. It was managed by 
the Methodist Book Concern but was conducted in a 
liberal spirit from 1841 to 1876. Designed to furnish 
reading particularly acceptable to women and the family 
circle and at first abounding with heavy advice to females, 
it immeasurably and unceasingly belectured and relegated 
misses, maids, and matrons to their sphere." Never- 
theless, it fostered female writing and it often paid in 
cash — both of them quite surprising in the Methodist 


Book Concern. The Parlour Magadne, which would 
doubtless have called itself a Lady's Book had not the 
title been filled at the moment, was also conducted on^ 
rather austere lines at first. The edita/ had no intention 
of debauching any parlours by admitting sentimental 
romances. Alice Gary came back from New York to 
infuse the slightest touch of worldliness in it, but she soon 
returned. The Parlour Magazine dragged along wood- 
enly for two years, its new romances being as edifying 
as its old articles against them, and finally married in 1855 
the West American Monthly, of which union it died at j 
once. Two other Cincinnati periodicals come in for brief ^ 
mention. Both of them scorned the obvious feminine 
bid, it is true, but their chief claim to be mentioned here 
is that they so well typify the Westerness that gave them 
birth. In 1847 Coates Kinney, the author of that famous 
lyric, The Rain on the Roof, was assistant editor of 
The Genius of the West. The other editor had trouble 
with the proprietor and set up a rival journal. The New 
Western, the Original Genius of the West. It soon went 
out, however, and the other Genius burned alone for five 
volumes. Then, second characteristic of these Western 
periodicals, all of its good contributors went to the sea- 
board and left it without any oil in its lamp. These were 
the Gary girls, Wallace, Whitelaw Reid, and Howells — 
eastward the course of the Inspired took its way. 

The chief furtherer of the cause of periodical literature 
in the West was W. D. Gallagher. He did not, it is true, 
start so many magazines as did L. A. Hine, who set four 
of them going in six years, but he staved off his creditors 
longer in each case. Hine had plenty of ideals but never 
enough cash to last the year out. Gallagher was responsi- 
ble for but three, and all cut a dash except the first — the 
Western Minerva, started in 1824. He was sixteen years 
old when this Minerva sprang forth mature from his 
head, and he was writing verses for the Literary Gazette 
signed, not Jove, but " Julia." When he began the Gin- ^ 
cinnati Mirror in 1832, he was guaranteed a salary. But 


it never paid its way in spite of its extensive circulation 
(what a pity some of those honest Jews of Swine-sin- 
naughty — as a famous parody dubbed it — didn't rally 
to his support as they did to Conway's !) ; and the guaran- 
tee amounted to what it usually did in such cases. The 
paper lasted, however, four years. " Many of the Mir- 
ror's articles have received a circulation unsurpassed by 
any other contemporaneous literary journal," said he in 
valedictory, " and yet we have been forced to abdicate 
the tripod. Simply because of the delinquency of those 
who have subscribed. There are due to us several thou- 
sands of dollars. It now remains for our subscribers to 
say whether we shall sacrifice only our time and labour 
or whether we shall suffer a pecuniary loss too." The 
subscribers cheerfully acquiesced in the latter alternative. 
After its death he received calls to edit, one after the 
other, two magazines beginning with the inevitable 
" Western." Three years later he began the Hesperian. 
He said in his opening speech that his ten years' exer- 
tions in behalf of Western literature had been fruitless 
to himself of everything but experience, yet he finds cour- 
age to make one more attempt, because he is convinced 
that there is throughout the whole West a great demand 
and a growing necessity for it. The Hesperian was im- 
portant and had some important contributors. But Gal- 
lagher, who had been willing to starve when he had noth- 
ing, was now tempted to eat when he could, and betook 
himself to a mere newspaper at a liberal salary for the 
rest of his days. The paper, like all newspapers, had 
a somewhat pretentious literary department, but not large 
enough to endanger his salary. This defection from 
the cause of pure literature should be forgiven in Gal- 
lagher. The Hesperian' s publisher exhibited the grossest 
remissness and most culpable mismanagement, he says; 
and it is to be remembered in his favour that he was so 
patriotic that he even refused the requests of Eastern 
publishers when they came at last. It is amusing to note 
that when the Southern Literary Messenger reviewed his 



first book of poems in 1838 it regretted the volume had 
not been published in one of the Atlantic cities. " How 
natural it is to condemn a book unread that has the im- 
print of a country town." This from that arrogant 
Athenian hamlet of the South to a city which was not 
only the Athens of the West but a pork-metropolis as 

Yet for many years Lexington, Kentucky, had run 
her a close race as Athens. The seat of the Transylvania 
University, during the War of 181 2, she had the right 
long before that to be called a literary centre. As early 
as 1803 she had maintained for one whole year the 
Medley or Monthly Miscellany, In 18 19 she ran for 
two years the Western Review, which chided the mor- 
als of Don Juan and chortled with delight over Ivanhoe 
quite in the same way as its Eastern brothers, if a good 
four months later. The most important part of its con- 
tents, says Mr. Venable, was a series of authentic narra- 
tives of conflicts with the Indians. " Gentlemen who 
are not in the habit of writing for the public, and who are 
not even accustomed to composition of any sort, are 
still solicited to communicate, in the plainest manner, the 
facts within their knowledge," the far-sighted editor had 
stated in the opening number. This and its predecessor 
were the first literary magazines west of the Alleghanies, 
but when Lexington's third came along in 1829 there 
were competitors. The Literary Messenger and Clarke 
made Louisville known to the North just as the Southern 
Messenger and Poe had made Richmond known; and 
George D. Prentice was almost the first in that brilliant 
procession of personal editors which made the West 
famous and of which Colonel Watterson, in the same 
city, is now the last survivor. 

Other towns which threatened to set up as Athenses 
but were nipped in the bud were Knoxville and Rogers- 
ville in Tennessee and New Richmond and Lebanon in 
Ohio, with one magazine each. Mount Pleasant and 
Oxford, Ohio, had two; and so had Vandalia, Illinois. 


The activity of the entire region is shown by the fact that 
out of three hundred and fifty-nine newspapers published 
in 18 1 3, Kentucky had seventeen, Ohio had fourteen, and 
Tennessee had six. Of these magazines only the Van- 
dalia ones can be noticed. The Illinois Magazine, con- 
ducted by Judge Hall, said that paper shipped from Pitts- 
burgh in November did not arrive until April. Mr. W. 
B. Cairns quotes from the Department of Literary Intel- 
ligence in one of the numbers : " We have not a great 
deal to say under this head, because new books are not re- 
markably abundant in Vandalia. Nor do we expect to be 
able at any time to throw much light upon the passing 
events of the literary world. But we intend to pick up 
all we can." The Western Monthly, conducted by the 
same editor, boasted thirty-seven contributors, all but 
three from its own side of the mountains. Among its 
" highly gifted females " was Harriet Beecher. Her first 
literary work won the prize of fifty dollars which this en- 
terprising editor offered in 1833. Gallagher's Cincinnati 
Mirror and Ladies' Parterre said of it, "A New England 
sketch by Miss Beecher of this city is written with great 
sprightliness, humour, and pathos." Before i860 at least 
ninety magazines devoted wholly or in part to general 
literature had appeared in the region watered by the Ohio 
and its tributaries. 

As for Chicago, she had had a baker's dozen. Her 
first newspaper had been set up when the mail was carried 
on horseback once a week to her five hundred head of 
population — fit beginning for a city that by the end of 
the century had achieved at least two hundred and fifty- 
eight periodicals, about eighty of which were of maga- 
zine rank. And almost before she outgrew her first 
picket-fence she was indulging in weekly literature, the 
Gem of the Prairie — fit forecast of her literary spirit. 
For this proved even more aggressively Western than 
the spirit of Charleston had proved Southern; and 
" prairie " or " Western " or " Chicago " dominated the 
title of almost every one of its successors. Mr. H. S. 



Fleming in Magazines of a Market Metropolis has re- 
viewed her career in detail. The sea-board periodicals 
began to come West about the middle of the century, and 
it was perhaps sufficient to drive even a more modest 
town into aggressiveness to behold their utter oblivious- 
ness to any country not East of the Alleghenies. Like 
their Charleston brethren, Chicago editors burned to re- 
port their cause aright to the exclusive East ; and like all 
the pioneers, both new and old, they strove earnestly 
to create a literature and disdained the aid of mere com- 
mercialism and even of common-sense. The Civil War 
in splitting the country into North and South, somewhat 
obliterated the frontier between East and West ; and after 
the war Chicago began a long struggle for metropolitan- 
ism in literature. But in spite of the newer vision of her 
editors, the wonder-story of her commercial prosperity 
intensified her local spirit. The strident note of it, how- 
ever, appeared more in their tone than in her patronage. 
The Lakeside Monthly (1869), Mr. Fleming tells us, 
chided Western writers for looking with unbecoming awe 
upon Eastern reputations, yet was uneasily anxious to 
demonstrate that the " Western " in the magazine it had 
just absorbed would not portend any restriction in aim 
and scope. The distinctively literary character of this 
magazine approximated the Atlantic — whose title it had 
doubtless intended to suggest. It at least succeeded in 
making Eastern editors for the first time turn some at- 
tention to Western subjects and seek Western writers. 
Also, it demonstrated its kinship with the foremost 
Eastern periodicals by getting itself annexed to a publish- 
ing house. It lived through the fire, and long enough 
to receive a proposal of consolidation from Scribner's- 
Century. But like Cassius, it preferred death to creeping 
between the legs of a colossus, and found an honourable 
grave in 1874. 

Though literary attention it had received from the 
arrogant East, the first Chicago magazine to gain popu- 
lar subscription, either at home or outside, was the Little 



Corporal, a children's magazine which got such extraor- 
dinary foothold that it even disquieted that elderly 
Boston millionaire, the Youths' Companion (still pursuing 
its career, just as though Harper's Young People and the 
Argosy had not successively announced that it was im- 
possible to create a new audience every four years!). 
Apparently, the reason for the success of the Little 
Corporal and that of the Chicago Ledger, a family story 
paper modelled after Bonner's, was that each forgot to 
be Western. Like the Southern, the Western magazines 
entirely over-estimated local patriotism. The first Chi- 
cago author to acquire national reputation did so by his 
laughter at Chicago's mixture of idealism and crudity; 
the wreath on the cover of Eugene Field's Culture's 
Garland was a wreath of sausages, and the sub-title 
of the book was " Being Memoranda of the Gradual 
Rise of Literature, Music, and Society in Chicago and 
Other Western Ganglia." At the beginning of the last 
decade in the century, Chicago started America, a weekly 
which paid enormous prices for national reputations ; yet 
its circulation during its brief career remained chiefly 
Western. Not until the city step-mothered the Chap 
Book, did she establish a periodical, says Mr. Fleming, 
which gave the manager of the Western News Company 
any reason to change his dictum " Put a New York date 
line on it or the West will not take it." When the 
Chap Book ended its unique and international career 
(during which it had been so lofty about the entire 
American literary output that all the leading publishers 
refused to advertise in it) it transferred its good will to 
the Dial, which since 1880 had reviewed books and 
literary matters in a dignified and conservative way. 

America had paid Bret Harte five hundred dollars for 
his dialect poem, Jim. San Francisco achieved the na- 
tional fame of a literary centre for which Chicago had 
vainly yearned. This had come about by no means be- 
cause it was less aggressively Western but rather because 
it happened to possess, along with the men, more disting- 


tive and picturesque features, and its local colour was not 
the familiar crimson of the slaughter house but had the 
aureate glint of which the world knows all too little. 
San Francisco had not so persistently striven for literary 
distinction as had Chicago, and her one golden hour of it 
caught and left her almost unaware. She had begun, 
however, with the same aesthetic intentions. " San Fran- 
cisco is only five years old," said Putnam's in April, 1854, 
" yet it supports two or three theatres, an opera, a 
monthly magazine, an Academy of Science, thirteen daily 
papers, and we don't know how many weekly papers." 
The magazine was the Pioneer or California Monthly, 
established that month — too soon to say it was " sup- 
ported," as the sequel proved. But the Calif ornian lived 
long enough to be heard around the world, for it pub- 
lished Mark Twain's first hit. The Jumping Frog. 
In i860, Bret Harte became editor of the newly founded 
Overland Monthly, and though it has lived ever since, 
its voice never reached so far again as it did in its second 
number. In this, despite the protest of the maiden proof- 
reader, The Luck of Roaring Camp was published. 
Harte refused to edit the magazine or write for it again 
unless the proprietor yielded. A like fate had already 
met the hit of a succeeding number. The Heathen 
Chinee, which had been rejected by the San Francisco 
News-Letter as twaddle. The history of both of these 
record-breakers shows that it pays the author to have a 
personal pull with the editor. But it did not pay the 
Overland Monthly to make its editor so famous. For 
Bret Harte succumbed to Eastern publishers and departed 
carrying its fame with him; and the Overland got what 
consolation it could from the fact that the Atlantic paid 
him ten thousand dollars for his literary output for one : 
year and in it he wrote almost nothing at all. The hen j 
that had hatched ducklings saw them all depart to the dis- 
tant water — which is, alas! the fate of all frontier hens. 
Promising writers forsake the Athenses that may be for 
th^ Athenses that are, 


Putnam's and the new journals of opinion 

The ideal of a magazine which Lowell had attempted to 
embody in his Pioneer (the life of which was so brief 
that it might almost have been called the Minute-Man) 
found another incarnation in New York before returning, 
in the Atlantic, to its original dwelling-place. Still may- 
be heard echoes of that joyful choir which hailed the 
establishment of Putnam's. This was in 1853 — the 
year of the earliest forecasting ripple of the Atlantic, by 
the way. It took the Boston literati four years to per- 
suade their publishers to make the venture, but either 
Putnam was rasher or the New York writers more elo- 
quent — for the magazine was only six months incubat- 
ing. And the month that saw it absorbed into Emerson's 
[beheld its delayed twin just making an appearance. The 
race is not always to the swift ! 

All good periodicals go when they die, said Holmes, 

,into the archives of the deaf, dumb, and blind recording 

|angel whose name is Oblivion. But magazines which 

lave lived ten times as long as Putnam's have been taken 

less frequently from their dusty shelves. " Many of the 

[{writers of the Dial are now connected with that successful 

md independent magazine, Putnam's Monthly," wrote 

^r. Frank Sanborn in the Harvard Magazine, 1855. 

It is an approximation to the end for which the Dial 

^as set up. When shall we have in New England a 

lagazine which to the enterprise and briskness of Put- 

im's shall add the high purpose and rare genius of the 

Half " He seems not to have known that " the gnomon 

lat should mark the full noon" (as Alcott pompously 

prophesied) was even then in the second year of its ges- 



tation. To that magazine long years afterwards, Holmes 
wrote in retrospect. " The Atlantic was still an experi- 
ment. Putnam's, owing its success largely to that very 
accomplished and delightful writer, Mr. George William 
Curtis, had so well deserved to live that its death was 
a surprise and a source of regret. Could another monthly 
take its place and keep it when that, with all its attractions 
and excellencies, had died out, and left a blank in our 
periodical literature which it would be very hard to fill as 
well as that had filled it?" 

But all unaware has the present writer, as if with the 
pen of destiny, killed off the meteoric Putnam's ere it has 
fairly begun. He must return to its inception. This was 
due to " Harry Franco " Briggs. Like Underwood, he 
represented to the publisher that the time was ripe for a 
literary monthly of the highest sort, which should stand 
for American literature and should at the same time 
concern itself with public affairs ; but, very different from 
Underwood, he could not point to an established literary 
circle on which he could rely. Instead — when Putnam 
had willingly listened to the voice of the tempter — a 
round-robin was sent out to American authors asking if 
they would give their support, and calling attention to 
the announcement that the magazine would be entirely 
original. Most of the replies were joyful, and com- 
mented significantly on the fact that as far as originality 
went there would be little domestic rivalry. The pub- 
lisher said that he would pay for everything he used at 
the highest rate he could afford ; and this he would raise 
as time went on. He hinted at his expectation that some 
of the magazine material would be available for books. 
Sauce for the goose, this had no doubt been sauce for 
the gander also; and there was also another inducement 
to the book-publisher to undertake the enterprise. The 
success of Harper's had shown that such a magazine could 
be utilised as the most effective advertising machinery to 
make known a publisher's list. 

" Has not the long and dreary history of magazines 



opened our eyes? " questioned Putnam's of echo in open- 
ing. " Is there some siren seduction in theatres and 
periodicals that forever woos managers and publishers 
to a certain destruction? Why do we propose another 
twelve-month voyage, in pea-green covers, toward ob- 
scurity and the chaos of failures? " The answer to these 
questions was the same as it had been one hundred years 
before. " Because we believe the time is now ripe," and 
so forth. But, aside from this perennial ripeness of the 
time, there were two new bids for survival on the part 
of the young aspirant. The first was its quixotic deter- 
mination to be original and to accept no man's goods 
without payment; the second was its intention to move 
nearer to life by the discussion of every-day affairs. 
For the former, the time proved, on account of certain 
local and foreign conditions, to be greener than it had 
ever been before. The latter attempt was less premature, 
yet it brought no fruitage of enduring subscribers to 
Putnam's. Indeed, for most of them it was an ideal 
which suffered the fate of the medlar — to become rotten 
before ripening. Few free-born American citizens had 
ever been willing to have their opinion criticised, and to 
pay for the pleasure was quite preposterous. It took 
them some years to learn to refrain from the inalienable 
right of cancelling their subscriptions at once. Of the 
welfare of these two confiding ideals, C. F. Briggs, when 
he opened the Second Series of Putnam's, had some in- 
teresting things to say : 

It is just fourteen years since we had the honour to assist in 
getting out the first number of Putnam's Monthly. We derive 
considerable satisfaction in remembering the cosy little dinner 
in a certain cosy house in Sixteenth Street, at which the plan 
of the work was discussed and the adventure determined upon. 
The little party consisted of Mrs. Caroline M. Kirkland, Mr. 
George Sumner, Mr. Parke Godwin, Mr. George W. Curtis, 
Mr. and Mrs. Putnam, and the present writer. Two of that 
little party are already gone; the rest remain to assist in the 
revival. The chief doubt in the minds of many was whether 
the country could furnish the requisite number of writers to 



sustain an original magazine of the better class, but the experi- 
ment proved there was plenty of latent talent which only re- 
quired an opportunity for its development. Through certain 
misadventures the work stopped for a while, but anxious in- 
quiries have constantly been heard as to when it would reap- 
pear No one seemed willing to believe it had stopped for 
good. When the old Putnam furled its sails for a season, the 
Atlantic Monthly was launched and took the flood of public 
favour. In its build and trim was much that was most familiar 
to us. From the numbers of the first monthly seventeen books 
were printed, including Potiphar Papers and Prue and I. 
Fourteen years ago it was considered an act of hari-kari for a 
popular periodical to express a political opinion, particularly if 
it was adverse to the " peculiar institution " of the South. But 
we ventured upon it without any particular harm coming of it, 
and we shall probably try it again. Certainly, we have no de- 
sire to publish a magazine for readers who are too feeble to 
endure a candid discussion, now and then, of political subjects. 
One serial used to be considered sufficient for an English maga- 
zine ; no magazine ventures now to have less than two. Ameri- 
can readers are accustomed almost entirely to foreign works of 
fiction, but we shall publish none but stories of native pro- 
duction. ■ - ^ 

At the end of the first volume, the editors stated that 
they had received from voluntary contributors four hun- 
dred and eighty-nine articles, the greater part from 
writers wholly unknown before. From them they had 
selected some of the most valuable papers they had pub- 
lished. Every article had been paid for at a rate which 
their writers thought " liberal," all were original, and 
with one exception all, they believed, had been written 
for the magazine. For volume two they had as many as 
nine hundred and eighty articles to choose from, and they 
had had the good fortune to introduce some young writers 
of promise. This number was doubled for the fourth 
volume, and there could be no longer any doubt that 
abundant native literary support could be found for an 
American magazine. But literary support was by no 
means the only thing to be considered. The publishers 
stated that they were fully aware that in a country where 
the choicest works of foreign genius are to be had for 
the taking, to found and sustain a magazine at once uni- 


versal in its sympathies and national in its tone, was not 
an easy task. But the position of Putnam's, they felt, 
was now assured. 

No reader of this announcement could have failed to 
recognise the point of this allusion. '' Harper's had for 
the two years since it had been started been almost wholly 
a reprint of English current literature," says Scudder's 
Lowell, " and even its cover was a copy of Bentleys. 
It had, however, struck a popular taste, and its success 
made other publishers jealous, while its easy use of for- 
eign matter made the men of letters angry." Putnam's 
had little to say of the " scissors and paste-pot maga- 
zines " except as they made its own position precarious. 
It exhibited commendable restraint even when Harper's 
published three months after its original issue in Putnam's 
an American story which had been copied without credit 
in Eli::;a Cook's Journal, of London. Certainly the inci- 
dent afforded a tempting occasion — as did Littell's Liv- 
ing Age, when it republished Longfellow's " Two An- 
gels," appropriated in the same way by Bentley's — to 
remind the public how the reprint magazines kept their 
eyes shut to all that was going on in America. But upon 
the latter subject — having a mind of their own and 
speaking it — Putnam's prided itself very much ; and here 
it did venture to proclaim disapproval of its rival. As 
Curtis was writing for Harper's Monthly sketches and 
social notes, and had The Lounger in the Weekly when 
he was associate-editor of Putnam's, it may be guessed 
that he was ambidextrous; in this instance, at least, he 
must have kept from his right hand the knowledge of 
what was going on in the neighbourhood of his left. In 
March, 1857, appeared this interesting article about the 
periodicals of the rival house. 

When Harper's Magazine was commenced, it was in pur- 
suance of a shrewd perception that the time and the country 
demanded and would readily support a periodical of higher 
character than what were termed the " Philadelphia magazines," 
which were, to speak generally, simply repositories of silly love 


stories, rhymes, and fashion-plates, with occasional poems from 
our best poets, which served as corks to float the rest of the 
freight to market. Harper's was the rod that consumed all 
these creeping things. It was compiled with such tact from the 
stores of current literature furnished monthly by the English 
periodicals; it was so copious, so various, and so entertaining, 
and took the field with such an air of confident triumph that a 
much inferior magazine would have succeeded. The very first 
numbers were so clean and handsome and prompt and bright 
that the rivals retired and the " Philadelphia magazines " lost 
their exclusive prominence. The secret of its popular success 
is that it just keeps pace with the popular mind; consequently 
it had no opinions, no politics, no strong expression. The same 
good sense and shrewd perception also saw that the unprece- 
dented success of the Illustrated London News showed conclu- 
sively that the public liked pictures, and that careful illustra- 
tions gave an increased value to every descriptive article. 
Instead, therefore, of old fashion-plates and Rosalie and Sweet 
Seventeen and the Belle of the Ball-room there were two or 
three elaborately written and capitally illustrated articles. The 
American people had always taken the anti-British view of 
Napoleon — and the most illustrious contribution to Harper's 
has been the literary apotheosis of Napoleon, wherein for scores 
of successive numbers that eminent saint was delineated in all 
the details of his humility, piety, and unswerving devotion to 
the welfare of mankind by the Reverend Mr. Abbott. This 
combination of piety and military glory coinciding with the 
prevailing partiality of American readers, confirmed the triumph 
that was already achieved. Harper's reached a fabulous circu- 
lation. Probably no periodical in the world was ever so popu- 
lar or so profitable. It had ably done what it proposed to do. 
It was a result to be regarded in some degree with national 
complacency and pride, because it was undoubtedly much supe- 
rior to the class of periodicals it supplanted. 

But there was a remarkable other side to this phenomenon. 
It sought to be universally acceptable, and its complaisance in- 
evitably destroyed its force; it was known to be largely com- 
piled from foreign literature and consequently it was considered 
to be no representative of American talent. It was therefore 
no leader, no friend, no critic, no censor. It was good-humour- 
edly called the Buccaneer's Bag, Abbott's Magazine, the 
Monthly Corn Plaster, the Universal Shin-Saver, the Monthly 
Nurse. But everybody bought it and read it and everybody was 
sure that nothing decided or impolitic, no laugh at anything 
that everybody did not laugh at, would be concealed anywhere 
between its fair yellow covers. It risked no popularity by trying 
to step ahead and to furnish something a little more marrowy. 


It was still felt that the intellectual independence and move- 
ment of the country had no organ; and from that conviction in 
due season sprang Putnam's Monthly. In a retrospective view 
of our literature of the last three or four years, it seems to us 
very evident that the first immediate effect of the success of 
Putnam's was to naturalise Harper's. That magazine ceased to 
be a second table of the English periodicals and became grad- 
ually more and more American. But rather in subject than in 
treatment; its spirit was still timid and hesitating. Every 
month it made its courtly bow; and with bent head and unim- 
peachable toilet, whispered smoothly, " No offence, I hope ! " 
The inevitable penalty was that with the greatest circulation in 
the world, it could not make the smallest literary reputation. 
It was managed with profuse generosity — probably literary 
labour of the kind was never better paid than it has been by 
Harper — but when the author had pocketed his money, he 
might as well have pocketed his article. Yet elsewhere it might 
have made a literary mark. Harper's still flourishes with un- 
abated vigour. It still bows and avoids. Their new weekly 
periodical commences with more chances of pecuniary success 
than any weekly ever undertaken in America. But already the 
spirit of the paper is manifestly that of the magazine. In the 
War of the Roses it is sure that a great deal may be said for 
white, but then it believes there is much to be urged for red. 
Whenever unanimity of public opinion may be assumed, then 
Harper's Weekly cordially agrees with the public. 

Nevertheless, Stedman thought that Putnam's, even in 
the line of " opinions," left much to be desired. He 
wrote to his step-father in 1857 begging him to come 
back from Italy and establish a Republican Review, say- 
ing that nine out of ten of the reading public were re- 
publicans and had no magazine to represent them. 
'' Putnam's is Republican, to be sure, in distinction from 
other journals, but it does not fling out much of a banner 
and is not sustained in its mental calibre — is alternately 
sensible and foolish, light and heavy.'' Lowell, on the 
other hand, thought Briggs was a trifle too disposed to 
consult the opinions of the majority. " I doubt if your 
magazine," he wrote, " will become really popular if you 
edit it for the mob. Nothing is more certain than that 
popularity goes downward and not up; and it is what 
the few like now that the many have got to like by and 


by." What called forth this letter was the editorial dis- 
position to pay attention to the comments of the readers 
upon the contents of the magazine. 

" In 1853," writes Mr. George Haven Putnam, " no 
such heavy outlay was required to place a magazine upon 
the market as has proved to be necessary in these later 
periods of magazine competition. My father told me 
he actually made no cash investment other than the pay- 
ment to the authors for their contributions for the first 
two months. The receipts from subscriptions and sales 
proved to be sufficient, before the time came for the set- 
tlement of the bills of the printers and paper makers, to 
provide the necessary resources for these. The circula- 
tion of the magazine during the four years of its existence 
ranged from twelve to twenty thousand. What was 
called the normal price for the earlier contributions was 
$3 a page. The more important men received $5, and 
contributions of a special character were paid as high as 
$10. Of poetry not very much was utilised, but such 
verses as were accepted (mainly for the purpose of filling 
up any blank half -pages) were paid for at from $10 to 

Briggs made an able editor, but the success of Put- 
nam's owed to the personal charm of Curtis almost as 
much as the Atlantic later owed to Holmes. " He gave," 
said Scudder, himself a seasoned editor, " that distinction 
of lightness and flavour which every literary magazine 
covets but can rarely command." This all the world 
could see, but its readers did not know that they had him 
to thank for keeping it, after it passed into other hands, 
as near to its original high standards as circumstances 
would permit. Nor did they know that he was furnishing 
in his own conduct an example of that fine and quixotic 
endeavour which from the beginning had characterised 
the magazine. Curtis was a special partner of Dix and 
Edwards, who bought out Putnam's rights; he took no 
part in the management and yet had some pecuniary re- 
sponsibility. When the firm failed in 1857, Curtis sac- 


rificed his private fortune to save the creditors from loss 
and managed by 1873 to recoup them. 

But the excellence of his v^ritten work and its popular- 
ity all recognised. And the proof of this v^as the fre- 
quency with which it was claimed by others. For the plan 
of printing articles without names landed them in the 
familiar predicament of having unsuspected authors pop 
up everywhere. About Potiphar Papers they published 
quite a correspondence. The gentleman who insisted 
that a deceased friend had written them must have been 
somewhat taken aback when he was told that " one of our 
editors, Mr. Blank, claimed the authorship for himself.*' 
The exquisite pen of this editor opened the new series 
with a gay and tender reminiscence. 

One bright day and long ago — it seems to me now that it 
must have been soon after the War of 1812, but on reflection I 
discover that it was in 1852 — I was dining with Mr. Harry 
Franco at Windust's in Park Row. Mr. Franco asked me what 
I thought of the prospect of a new and wholly American maga- 
zine, and immediately proceeded to set forth its possible charac- 
ter and brilliant promises so fully and conclusively that I knew 
he was prophesying and that before many months a phoenix 
would appear. Now in the following autumn after the other 
dinner — for it is a beautiful provision of nature that literary 
enterprises of great pith and moment should be matured under 
the benign influences of good eating and drinking — I found 
myself consulting, in a bare room in a deserted house in Park 
Place, where nobody could find us out, with Mr. Publisher Put- 
nam, Mr. Harry Franco, editor-in-chief, and Mr. Parke God- 
win, associate editor, upon the first number of Putnam's Monthly. 
Our council chamber was a third story front room in a doomed 
house near to Mr. Putnam's headquarters. It was a dwelling 
house, and as fashion had at last flown even from Park Place — 
the spot below Bleecker Street where it lingered longest — the 
house was patiently waiting to be demolished and make way for 
a " store." Every day we met and looked over manuscripts. 
How many there were ! And how good ! And what piles of 
poetry ! The country seemed to be an enormous nest of nightin- 
gales ; or perhaps mocking-birds — certainly cat-birds. I can 
see the philosophic Godwin tenderly opening a trembling sheet 
traced with that feminine chirography so familiar to the edi- 
torial eye, and in a hopeful voice beginning to read. After a 
very few lines a voice is heard — methinks from Franco's chair : 


" Yes, yes ; guess that's enough "— Walter di Montreal, thy 
hour has come, and the familiar chirography flutters into the 
basket. I suppose that Mr. Franco and Godwin and the poor 
fellow who was snuffed out by Mr. Brown's brief remark (that 
he didn't know the person who had written about Mrs. Potiphar 
of " Brown's society") might fill many pages with their recol- 
lections of the pleasant cradle-and-crib days of the young Put- 
nam. Those three were the monthly nurses. They saw that 
infant phenomenon safely through his prodigious childhood, 
and how rapidly he obtained his growth! There are books in 
good standing everywhere, which I can never see but with the 
feeling of the pedagogue toward his pupils. My boys, sir, my 
boys ! he remarks with complacency as the famous poets or 
travellers or novelists pass by. . . . How this latest born into 
the monthly world springs and sparkles ! Ah, Mr. Franco, if it 
is not our child, let us submit and believe it to be our grand- 
child. May heaven bless you, young stranger! Forgive an 
old-fashioned benediction, but may you be a better man than 
your father! 

The father had gone down, like so many good men and 
true, in the panic days of 1857. At least, in the euphe- 
mistic language of magazine announcements, Putnam's 
espoused Emerson's in October of that year — and it was i 
never more true that " a young man married is a young 
man marred." It then came out that Putnam had sold 
the magazine some time in '55. The Round Table in a 
series of articles on the publishers in 1866 said that the 
amount paid to Dix and Edwards, who bought it, on Put- 
nam's own offer, was eleven thousand dollars. And it 
had paid him a liberal profit while he published it. Many 
readers did not know that Putnam had relinquished it at 
the end of its fifth volume, and consequently were some- 
what mystified at the absorption, especially when they 
were editorially assured that the magazine had doubled 
its circulation in the past three rnonths. '* Emerson's 
with his honest and manly bearing," ran the announce- 
ment, " has grown so rapidly, and on several occasions 
so outgrown his tailoring, that it has been a little difficult 
to keep up with his length of Hmb." But vital statistics 
in magazines are always roseate, and though it was true 
that the youngster had changed his name four times re- 


cently and was to do so once more, the alliance — which 
many people thought unholy — was not to prosper. The 
publishers pledged themselves to devote every dollar of 
profit for three years to improving the magazine — a 
rash oath, for it lasted but one. Thus Putnam's made, in 
the eyes of the world at least, a rather inglorious end. 
Even before it openly became Emerson' s^ it had greatly 
petered out. But the two and a half years that Putnam 
had it were illustrious. It not only cut a dash but it 
made an epoch in our magazine literature. Tentative 
as its policy may seem now, it was the first popular maga- 
zine to take so vigorous a stand upon the living questions 
of the day. Furthermore, it had announced that it was 
going to be American and original; and it had kept its 
word. For this we owe it a great debt of gratitude. 

None know better than our own authors what discouraging 
disadvantages the publisher of an original American magazine 
must contend against in being obliged to compete with the un- 
paid British productions, which are reproduced here almost 
simultaneously with their publication on the other side of the 
Atlantic. And while this unequal contest between the publisher 
who filches his matter and the one who pays for it almost pro- 
hibits the possibility of profit to the latter, the American author 
gauges his demand for compensation by the standard of his 
British brother. But we are touching, perhaps, on private 
rights by these allusions. The commercial value of any article 
depends on what it will bring in the open market, and by that 
test we will be governed in the question of pay. 

Thus ran one of the editorials in the first number of 
the New Series, 1868. " Many excellent friends who 
have favoured us with their sage advice, have strangely 
insisted that it will be useless to expect good contributions 
without good pay. As though a publisher or an editor 
were likely to have missed this special lesson in his deal- 
ings with authors! One veteran author by way of en- 
forcing his views on this subject demanded a retaining 
fee of five hundred dollars as an earnest of future pay- 
ments for whatever he might furnish. But there are two 
sides to this interesting question of pay. In order that a 


publisher should pay, he must himself be paid." Authors, 
indeed, were growing cocky. Mr. George Haven Put- 
nam in his Life of his father said that on account of the 
three new magazines started about the same time — Scrib- 
ne'/s, Lip pine otfs, and the Galaxy — the competition for 
the most important contributors became more serious than 
that for subscribers. Authors who in the day of the first 
Putnam's Monthly had been content with from three to 
five dollars a page now secured from ten to twenty, and 
for special contributions much larger sums. His account 
has many items of interest. 

Among the literary plans which engaged my father's first at- 
tention in again taking up his publishing business (after the 
war) was one for the re-establishment of Putnam's Magazine. 
The conditions seemed to be in certain ways favourable for the 
experiment, but it proved that the new wealth was very largely 
in the hands of people not interested in literature. The book- 
buying conditions of the South had of necessity been destroyed 
by the war. A very considerable portion of people in the North 
who had been buyers of books were no longer able to indulge 
in such luxuries. These were the people who had fixed in- 
comes; incomes payable in the legal tender of the day were 
materially curtailed. The nouveaux riches who had made 
money out of shady contracts or from pork speculations could 
not easily be reached by the publishers of standard literature. 
This seemed to give an opening for a magazine. 

The new Putnam's started off as illustriously as the 
old. The reputation of the former magazine for a time 
seemed likely to be regained and maintained. E. C. Sted- 
man and R. H. Stoddard did the department Literature 
At Home ; and Bayard Taylor covered Foreign Literature. 
All did their work in a way that occasioned admiration 
and added prestige. But times had changed very much 
since Putnam had started his earlier magazine on no 
cash whatever. Not only were authors demanding more 
money, the public were demanding illustrations. These 
in the first Putnam's had been promised as a treat for the 
second year. They proved, however, to be few in num- 
ber and mostly architectural ; and the following year, il- 


lustrations other than architectural were entirely confined 
to the first instalment of the Early Days of George Wash- 
ington. But what had been a luxury then was a necessity 
now. The competing magazines were making large out- 
lays for illustration. The First Series had paid, under 
Putnam's management, $12,819 to editors knd authors 
and $3,000 for illustrations ; and thus had proved a prac- 
ticable undertaking with a circulation ranging from twelve 
to twenty thousand. The Second never exceeded fifteen 
thousand, and Putnam considered that with the resources 
at his disposal it would not be wise to continue. The 
following " card " marked to the valedictory : 

A few words may be expected from the Publishers in closing 
this second series of Putnam's Magazine, and in introducing the 
new periodical which will take its place. This magazine was 
very generally and very kindly welcomed. We have the right 
to infer that the new series has, during the last three years, 
given general satisfaction. It has had a larger circulation than 
several of its contemporaries at home, and much larger than a 
dozen of the English magazines whose names have been familiar 
for many years. Yet it is more and more evident that popular 
taste calls for something diiferent; it may be higher or lower 
or better or worse. But those who pay their money have a 
right to the choice. We have aimed to produce a magazine 
wholly Original and essentially American. We have avoided 
all temptations to reprint from foreign magazines, or to cater to 
anything merely sensational. In this we may have been Quix- 
otic; but the aim at least was fair. The best material sent us 
— out of 3,035 mss. in three years — has been printed in the 
six volumes now completed. Our contributors have all received 
their pecuniary compensation. We wish it had been a great 
deal larger ; but we may state our relative reward thus : 

Dr. To Cash paid contributors $30,000 

Cr. By compliments to publishers ? ? ? 

By profits on outlay of $100,000 000 

By Balance — ? 

We now ask those who have expressed a friendly apprecia- 
tion of the ** pea-green " to permit us to introduce its better- 
looking successor. Retaining an interest in the sale of the new 
work (our edition bearing the name of Putnam's as well as 
Scribner*s) we ask our friends and correspondents to continue 


their subscriptions to us, in reasonable confidence that they will 
receive the full equivalent for their money. In addition to the 
illustrations afforded by the new magazine, there will be an in- 
fusion of fresh energy into the editorial management and a 
large accession of well-known and capable contributors. 

The remainder of Mary Clemmer Ameses serial story 
was sent free to all paid subscribers. The new editor was 
to decide as soon as possible in regard to using the ac- 
cepted manuscripts, and those rejected would be returned 
(chilling disappointment !) . In the first number of Scrih- 
ner's was this announcement : " Hours At Home, whose 
unpretending dress and suggestive title had grown fa- 
miliar to the eyes of many thousands, died — not of 
disease, not of old age, not of decay — died simply that 
Scrihner's Monthly might live. Putnam's, which has em- 
bodied in its pages the old Knickerbocker culture and pres- 
tige together with the free spirit of American progress, 
dies a month later, or rather merges the gathered re- 
sources of its life in the new magazine. The two have 
made their way to this change with the conviction that 
such changes have occurred in the popular demand that a 
great success is not possible if sought only by the old 
means and methods." This was very handsome editor- 
ial language on the part of Dr. Holland; for when he 
wrote a retrospect of the magazine eleven years after- 
ward, he said that Hours At Home was both worthless 
and moribund, and as for Putnam's, " when Mr. Putnam 
came to us with an offer for it, we acceded to his condi- 
tions, though I have forgotten what they were, and it was 
soon quietly left behind with the other." Another sun 
was rising and already yesterday's magazine was old- 

For Putnam's, in spite of its new and progressive idea 
of handling public questions, had upon it the large shadow 
of Irving. (It even counselled Melville to read his Ad- 
dison! Not that Melville didn't need advice, heaven 
knows ; but it would be difficult to devise for his staccato 
temper a more ludicrous misfit than the undulating Addi- 


sonian phrase.) And there was much of the cottscious 
Knickerbocker superiority and deliberate Knickerbocker 
exclusivness about it. Perhaps if Putnam's had Hved to 
grow up, we should have seen how one good custom could 
corrupt the world. As it is, it wears the charming halo 
of those generous high-souled companions of our youth 
who were destined to die young — and each year to be- 
come more admirable thereby. There were those who 
deemed Putnam's — in spite of the fledgling authors it 
was so proud of — entrenched in its clique. It is amusing 
to hear Stedman, who had greatly contributed to maintain 
a closed shop, bitterly complain of the Atlantic in this re- 
spect. " Would finish the poem for the Atlantic, did I 
suppose they would take it from me," he wrote to Bayard 
Taylor in 1865. *' Sometimes I must get an introduction 
there, through a kind word from you. What bad poetry 
they occasionally print. You furnish apparently all their 
good." The year before he had recorded in his diary: 
" Finished Holyoke Valley. Here now is a poem which 
I know to be artistic and full of feeling — equal to any- 
thing which the Atlantic has published for months. But 
I cannot send it there, because they have time and again 
refused the best productions of New York writers. Last 
summer they sent back the best short poem I ever wrote, 
The Test, afterwards printed in my book and copied 
everywhere. So I must send it to the Round Table, 
where the impersonal rule hides the author's name and 
where it can reach but a limited audience. An American, 
New York poet sings against the wind.'* 

These quotations date in the arid stretch between the 
two oases of Putnam's. During part of that period the 
only good literary paper in New York was the Round 
Table, a weekly of distinguished tone and bright, force- 
ful writing. A literary friend wrote to Stedman in 1864: 
" The Round Table must not go down. For God's sake, 
if Boston can support a literary journal, cannot New 
York ? Your wealthy men must be made to feel that the 
literary honour of the great city is at stake, and if she 


totters prop her good legs." The Round Table did not 
starve to death until 1869, but like Putnam's, she suffered, 
in the optimistic phrase of Briggs, an " interruption " for 
a little over a year. Its editorial outlook was similar to 
Putnam's. That magazine was saying in 1870: "Our 
own box is crammed, but the most of it is not good or 
good in such an indifferent way as to be quite as bad as 
bad. Nor is it for want of talent it is not better. But 
our writers want independence, individuality. They 
seem to be afraid of something or somebody and do not 
trust their personality. Then again, there is such a mani- 
fest absence of care, of study, of labour, of painstaking 
accuracy in what we do." Four years earlier the Round 
Table had made the same plea for more conscientious de- 
votion to thorough work, and some boldness and power. 

What are American writers doing to-day? The vigour and 
originality that promised a new era at the close of the war are 
lost already in nerveless twaddle. The leading monthly of the 
country vainly strives for a new and distinctive series of arti- 
cles, but is compelled to fall back upon a Biglow paper, Haw- 
thorne's private note-books, and a story written on the other 
side of the water. The leading review seeks purchasers by 
publishing sensational articles upon bar-room dailies, which its 
editors freely admit they cannot endorse. Two literary month- 
lies, promised to appear, dare not make the venture, mainly be- 
cause it is well-nigh impossible to procure worthy literary mat- 
ter. The literary field was never so barren. Meanwhile Syl- 
vanus Cobb, Mrs. Southworth, and Mrs. Stephens are having a 
boundless opportunity. Disgrace to our scholars and authors ! 
A good writer can make a handsome competence in this country. 

The charge of slovenly authorship by both of these 
periodicals was well sustained, doubtless; but there was 
a reason why Putnam's should have found young writers 
" afraid of something or somebody and afraid to trust 
their own personality." They were all trying to cram 
themselves into the Knickerbocker mould which, though 
judiciously followed, was still Putnam's pattern. And 
the flowing draperies of the Knickerbocker garment re- 
sembled the voluminous military cloak of the period — it 
was a fine thing to pose in if one had a figure for posing. 


What the youngsters of the day were afraid of was not 
filling it out well enough for Putnam's standard, and so 
they padded to suit. This editorial in the Round Table 
was answered very pertinently (however personally) by 
a correspondent. What new authors have lacked, he 
said, is editorial sympathy; they have had precious little 
of it since the days of Graham's and Sar tain's. 

In spite of these publications containing the best efforts of 
the established authors, the way was not barred to an untrained 
one and real talent had always a welcome. When Sartain gave 
up his enterprise and Graham withdrew, a great change came 
about. No longer having the stimulus of editorial encourage- 
ment and good pay, some ceased writing altogether. The New 
England writers went back to write for New England publica- 
tions. The New York men of letters soon gravitated to sets. 
A few men of merit formed among themselves a kind of free 
masonry of authorcraft and seized upon Putnam's Monthly as 
their special property and kept out all but the brotherhood. 
Putnam's failed as it ought to have failed; and likewise the 
weeklies conducted by these other sets. You are almost alone 
in volunteering editorial encouragement and proper reward to 
new pens. What chance has an unknown correspondent in 
Harper's Monthly, Weekly, Independent, Atlantic? A few pens 
only are used and paid for. If he is bold enough to venture on 
romance, he is informed by Harper's suave editors that both 
Monthly and Weekly are more than preoccupied by foreign 
writers. Where else can he go? To the New York Ledger, 
the New York Mercury, the New York Weekly, to the Philadel- 
phia weeklies; just where he will not go if he have any self- 
respect left, but just where many have to go who are constrained 
by their wants to find a market. Or if perchance Harper's 
do accept a brief story from an American pen, the reward is 
about one-tenth of what is paid the British writer for mere 
advance sheets. It is, as you know, considered an editorial 
favour to permit papers of a literary aspirant to go to press, 
for which he is supposed to be grateful. 

This perennial accusation, never entirely true in the 
very worst of times, seems to have been truer then than 
generally. For we hear the complaint echoed, as just 
now in Stedman's letter, by the most established of writ- 
ers. It must, however, be remembered that self-respect, 
especially that of writers, is of variable elasticity. Sted- 


man, though he said at this period that a married man 
could not Hve on magazine work if he wrote night and 
day, refused to write eleven poems for the Independent 
at one hundred dollars each — he had too much self-re- 
spect to make a grist-mill of himself! Yet while he was 
writing to his mother in 1864 that literature was at a 
stand-still in America — paralysed by the war, though all 
other arts and trades were thrifty, the Round Table was 
saying: "In these days even the small fry of authors 
who live from hand to mouth find far less difficulty in 
keeping up a pleasant intercourse between the two." 
Furthermore, tastes differ as widely as consciences. In 
1866 Stedman wrote to Lowell: "I need not tell you 
how much the best readers in New York have been in- 
terested in the new series of the North American Review. 
We all feel like the audience of an opera when the gas 
is suddenly turned up. In New York quite a literary re- 
vival has followed the happy close of the war — you 
know we have the Nation and the Round Table, such as 
they are, well written-for and poorly edited. Then we 
are to have at least two new magazines this spring, of a 
respectful cast, and perhaps three. I fear that, as usual 
here, our publishers and writers will so divide their en- 
ergies that we shall have three tolerable affairs instead of 
one first-rate and standard." To say nothing of the fact 
that there were many people in New York calling them- 
selves the best readers whose pulses were quite unstirred 
by the prospect of a new series of the North American, 
Stedman and Lowell (who might have agreed exactly 
upon the latter's beneficent ministries for the Boston 
magazine) differed decidedly about the Nation established 
by Godkin in 1865. Stedman said the first number was 
rather heavy, and in 1867 he wrote: "The Nation is 
cheaper than ever. The magazine man in his complacent 
stupidity has a laborious genius for saying precisely the 
wrong thing, as regards poetry." Lowell, on the other 
hand, wrote thus to Godkin in 1868 : " Its discussions of 
politics have done more good and influenced more opinion 


than any other agency, or all others combined, in the 
country. For my own part, I am not only thankful for 
the Nation, but continually wonder how you are able to 
make so excellent a paper with your material. I have 
been an editor and know how hard it is. ... I shall 
write from time to time till I think we are square. What 
Fields pays me, I doubt if anybody else would." Three 
years later he wrote : " You are the only man I know 
who carries his head perfectly steady, and I find myself 
so thoroughly agreeing with the Nation always that I am 
half persuaded I edit it myself." 

Thus we again return to the point of union between 
these divergent doctors — foj if Lowell thought the man 
who agreed with him had a steady head, Stedman in 
1868 was proposing to Ticknor and Fields to scatter the 
energies of New York writers still further by a literary 
journal of which he was to be editor. Having gone 
vainly so often to the Atlantic, he was now trying to get 
an Atlantic to come to him! It was a neat little irony 
which the whirligig of time had played upon one of the 
leading exponents of interurban jealousy. 

He and Bayard Taylor were enthusiastically interested 
in the welfare of the Galaxy, a monthly established in 
1866, edited by friends of his " who are doing their 
bravest to establish a New York magazine, and ought to 
be helped and encouraged by New York authors." To 
this, Taylor sold many poems of a new friend of his from 
the South, Sidney Lanier, and got better prices for his in- 
tercession. Lanier had brought his first considerable 
poem, Corn, to New York himself but had gone home 
unsuccessful, convinced " of the wooden-headedness of 
many persons who were leaders there in literary matters." 
The Galaxy lasted a dozen years — a high class magazine 
which left no particular mark deserving of notice here, 
but a boon to "self-respecting" authors — and then 
(cruel fate for any periodical in which Stedman was in- 
terested!) died and entered into Nirvana, the Atlantic , 
in 1878. 


The Round Table, 1866, in commenting on the great 
increase in periodicals since the close of the war, summed 
up the situation, " Many of these new periodicals were 
trashy to the last degree; some were simply rehashes of 
the English weeklies ; a few were honourable attempts to 
elevate the standard of literary taste. The era of weekly 
journalism has fairly begun in this country. Of the 
weeklies started last year three or four appeal to intel- 
ligent people, and these still have vitality." It is strange 
that any literary man in New York should have failed to 
see that the Nation and the Round Table marked the be- 
ginning of a better era. Each was the exponent — in 
the words of the latter periodical — of a high-class, high- 
toned, and well-written weekly, which believed that people 
were something more than grown-up babies unable to 
digest anything more solid than Sylvanus Cobb's ro- 
mances and Fanny Fern's tart paragraphs, but would 
listen to a serious discussion of serious topics from a 
purely American point of view and without scissors or 

" I used to try hard," wrote Mr. W. C. Brownell in the 
semi-centennial number of the Nation^ "to think the 
Round Table a real rival." Nevertheless, both were seek- 
ing to do the same thing — to cultivate a spirit of rea- 
sonableness, to express trained and cosmopolitan judg- 
ments upon American life and literature. The criticism 
of public men and public movements had always been per- 
sonal and partisan, in each case provincial and undiscrim- 
inating. Both were trying to give the educated man a 
voice in the periodical press. Before their advent, and 
that of Putnam's and the Atlantic, he had no place to go. 
Either the audience that he could address was already 
committed to follow a policy through thick and thin — 
and demanded that he do likewise; or it barred out any 
expression of opinion as being likely to disturb the fellow- 
ship of the gentlemen there assembled. With the decline 
of the lyceum lecturer just before the war, the old method 
of shaping popular thought on public matters had disap- 


peared. The growing supremacy in politics of purely 
material interests made it all the more necessary that pop- 
ular thought should be directed by independent judgments 
and in an unpartisan vehicle, particularly as the partisan 
press was largely given over to glib and gushing writers 
who rarely imparted their own opinions and never in- 
spected them in the light of other people's. 

The attitude of independent judgment on the part of a 
periodical is now frequently encountered, even though its 
practise far less frequently carries out its promise, but in 
that day the assertion of such an attitude was cynically 
revolutionary. As for the admission that national char- 
acteristics and international prejudices might distort judg- 
ment, the idea was no less than treasonable ! To this last 
accusation the nationality of the editor of the Nation sup- 
plied many a frenzied period. Even in Boston, it was 
said at a dinner table where mature minds were gathered 
together, " An Englishman might be fit for the kingdom 
of Heaven but not to edit an American periodical " ; and 
British gold was at its favourite occupation of supplying 
capital to undermine American ideals. This last in spite 
of the facts that the financial embarrassments of the Na- 
tion were unfortunately public property and that the paper 
was constantly experimenting with changes in make-up 
in the endeavour to keep afloat. It was generally believed 
that the end was a foregone conclusion. No matter how 
" uncommon its gift to make serious inquiry attractive '' 
(in the pat phrase of Mr. Howells), an independent 
periodical, criticising life and literature from only the 
highest standards of morality and taste and with no other 
popular appeal than this, could not long survive. That 
the Nation should have started ofT with as many as five 
thousand subscribers is remarkable. On this subscrip- 
tion list it sustained itself, in spite of bad business man- 
agement, without profiting by patronage or puffery. 
Lowell (that unpatriotic person!) said that in this regard 
it was the solitary American journal worthy of respect; 
and Charles Eliot Norton ("without whose aid," said 


Godkin, "I could never have been successful") capped 
the climax by expostulating with America in its seditious 
columns for being satisfied with half-way men and half- 
way achievements. Not even in the old lyceum days, 
when such unpartisan opinions as people heard were ex- 
pected to wear the fiery garments of oratory, had any 
one ventured to proclaim the home of the free the paradise 
of mediocrity ! It raised a rumpus. But the traitors who 
read its inspection of American ways and institutions 
somehow took its point of view after the first gasp, and 
then went forth to make similar nuisances of themselves. 
At high-water mark there were twelve thousand traitors 
in all, somewhere about its fifteenth year; but each felt 
himself commissioned to a high calling and remembered 
that the success of Saint Paul had largely come about 
from his talking out of season as well as in. ** To my 
generation," wrote William James, " Godkin's was cer- 
tainly the towering influence in all thought concerning 
public afifairs, and indirectly his influence has certainly 
been more pervasive than that of any other writer of the 

Now, it is necessary — if .we would estimate the in- 
fluence of these three New York periodicals and their 
Boston neighbour — to emphasise the fact that all this 
expression of independent judgment in crisp and quiet ac- 
cents was something quite new. The Nation itself pro- 
vides an amusing illustration of this. Calling attention 
with unwearied reiteration to the independence of its 
opinion, it nevertheless had not ventured to put from 
harbour without a flag. It intended to furnish " earnest 
and persistent consideration of the labouring class at the 
South with a view to the removal of all artificial distinc- ; 
tion between them and the rest of the population." And i 
if its consideration lacked anything, it was not persistence. 
Edward Everett Hale somewhere speaks of the old war- 
horse abolitionists casting anxiously about for another' 
crusade — most of them polygamously embraced woman's 
suffrage before the breath was well out of the body of 


the first spouse. Godkin, later in one of his letters, 
naively indicates the same necessity. " The newspapers 
all began now to look about for a cause, and in bethinking 
myself what the United States seemed to need most in 
this new emergency, I bethought myself of a reform of the 
civil service." Thus the natural-born free-lance is ever 
boastful of the freedom which frets him, and ever provok- 
ing the inevitable yoke. At least, so it was in the glad 
days when independent opinion first tried its wings — 
the day of the foot-loose reformer and the migratory 
muck-rake was still unborn. Putnam's, ere its brief 
second life was sped, saw popular magazines which once 
deemed it indiscreet to hold opinions, scramble for some 
to exploit ; and Godkin chided even George William Cur- 
tis in his later editorial chair for upholding principles 
which as a private citizen he did not believe. The era 
of opinions or nothing was dawning. 

As for literature in the Nation, it did not lag behind 
life. It insisted on impartial and informed judgment of 
books. This was as new in the literary world as the 
other in the political and social. Mr. Henry Holt says 
he still remembers his surprise and enlightenment at 
their sending a book for review to a man who was sup- 
posed to have some special knowledge of the subject. 
Such a thing, he thinks, had never been done before in 
American journalism, except spasmodically by the North 
American or the Atlantic. Furthermore, the publishers 
had been used to having everything that was not glaringly 
ignorant or immoral gently treated, if it was not praised. 
They did not know what to make of the Nation's strange 
ways, and it educated the publishing trade as well as 
raised the standard of literary criticism. " Then we used 
to feel if a book was pitched into it was because of per- 
sonal feeling against the author or the house. The 
Nation was the leader in the policy of without fear and 
without favour." 

Thus, the period of social responsibility had set in for 
periodicals; and, as was to be hoped and expected, it 


replaced the ideal of moral responsibility — under which 
they had so long led a pallid and mincing existence, when 
it was their stupid boast that " everything in the slightest 
way offensive even to the least fastidious would of course 
be excluded from these pages.'* Another race had come, 
it is true, and the war had fortunately killed off many 
age-worn notions and substituted for them others nearer 
to actuality and common sense. But it was Putnam's 
that, along with its quixotic attempt to make a native 
literature, had paved the way for a magazine which, 
retaining the urbanity of the Knickerbocker school, should 
concern itself not only with literature but life. 

And by and by came the recognition of active social 
forces from a source where it was least to be expected — 
the North American. This is getting us a little ahead 
of our chronology, but you have already seen how dis- 
turbing to classification is the longevity of the North 
American. It is no respecter of pigeon-holes, or we 
might say ( in language more applicable to this immediate 
literature than to her continuous life) she flutters all 

Osgood sold the magazine to Allen Thorndike Rice 
for four thousand dollars. Mr. Henry Holt said that he 
had intended to buy it and thought he had an option 
on it, and Godkin had agreed to edit it in connection with 
the machinery of the Nation. But the Nation itself could 
scarcely have shaken it more to its foundations than did 
Mr. Rice. He proceeded to make three astounding 
changes, and in the intervals between the first and second 
and the second and third, he seems to have paused to 
recover from the gasps aroused by his impiety and to 
generate enough courage for another audacity. First, 
he removed the magazine — just as if it had been any 
ordinary movable — from Boston to New York. Sec- 
ond, he made it a bi-monthly ; third, he made it a monthly. 
The reason for the second and third changes was that the 
quarterly could not keep in sufficiently close contact with 
current questions or deal with them thoroughly before 


the special interest in them had departed. Both of these 
changes New Yorkers modestly owned to be but conse- 
quent upon its change of residence — nobody in Boston 
cared for close contact with current questions. But for 
Boston herself the latter changes were unimportant — the 
Review might become a weekly and go to Halifax, so 
long as it had turned its treacherous and massive back 
upon its native town. It was as if Bunker Hill monu- 
ment had walked away. On October 30th, 1877, Long- 
fellow wrote : " Osgood has sold or given or conveyed 
the North American into the hands of the Appletons. 
Henceforth it will be edited, printed, and published in 
New York. Mr. Clark at the printing office said, * It is 
like parting with the New England Blarney Stone.' 
He might have said in more classic language * Troy has 
lost her Palladium.' . . . That ever the old Review should 
have slipped its moorings in Massachusetts Bay and 
drifted down to the mouth of the Hudson! It must 
be towed back again, and safely anchored in our har- 

Mr. Howells in his delightful contribution to the cen- 
tenary number says : 

" The translation of the North American from the 
intellectual Boston to the commercial metropolis, did make 
Boston rub her eyes a little, but, as I remember, not much. 
It would have taken far more than that to make her, long 
confirmed in her superiority, rub her eyes much. Yet 
we were not insensible to our incalculable loss ; the North 
American had been one of our glories, dim at times but 
lastingly a glory, an honour to our letters and a very 
strenuous help to such nationality as they had achieved. 
The removal may not have been the condition of the 
Review's survival ; it might have lived on in Boston, de- 
vouring successions of horses and carriages and obliging 
publishers to get about on foot as if they were no better 
than so many authors. But the Review passed from its 
noble adversity to the honourable prosperity which now 
crowns its century. Mr. Rice gave it the look of a maga- 


zine without and within; and the stately Roman-numer- 
alled articles with the foot-noted book titles on which 
they stood, retreated before the brisk onset of light 
papers of more journalistic cast. I am not sure that it 
ever sank so low as the symposium, but I believe that Mr. 
Rice had sometimes the courage to admit two embattled 
champions to the same number, there to fight out their 
differing opinions. That was a new thing, and it must 
have made the older readers of the Review sit up. The 
North American is now not at all a review of the old 
pattern. Something is still to be said for the old pattern, 
but since it is gone perhaps one is apt to over-praise it. 
If we waited now for a quarterly criticism of new books, 
the books would have died of old age; younger sellers 
would be pushing them from their shelves, and it would 
not be possible to buy or even borrow the authors re- 
viewed. ... In the new Review literature is given a 
back seat, but all the seats are good; and literature is 
treated at least as a living interest. I never saw the 
reasons for the old adversity but I see the reasons for the 
new prosperity in the eager immediate potent grapple with 
topics which advance upon the thinker from the forum 
and the market rather than from the study." Thus, if 
the Christian Examiner had come to New York and lost 
its soul, the North American had come and gained not 
only its body but its opinions. Boston might grumble 
as much as she pleased that the magazine had entirely 
departed from its old critical fastidiousness, but New 
York knew that she had touched her rival under the 
fifth rib, where had pulsed the very centre and core of 
her being. As for critical fastidiousness, what were 
contemplation and sentiment and ideality so long as one 
remained only a Saint Simeon Stylites on a pillar ! 

But to return to our pigeon-hole again (after this little 
forward voyage with that " extravagant and erring 
spirit," the North American). Only one other aspect 
in the period may detain us here. We quote from a 
Round Table of 1867. 


A magazine has long been known as among the useful ad- 
juncts to the business of a larger publishing house, and it would 
seem that it is now becoming recognised as an indispensable 
appliance of any whose operations are on a grand scale. Al- 
ready there are in our three publishing cities fourteen of the 
book-publishing firms which among them issue twenty-one pe- 
riodicals, varying in grade from quarterly and professional or 
scientific reviews to weekly and juvenile journals, a majority 
of which have come into life within a very short time. Be- 
sides these are New York branches of three London houses 
publishing eight magazines, and rumour says four more of our 
publishers are to give us new monthlies. The magazine mania 
— for it is scarcely less — prevailed in England for many 
months before it appeared here. That Messrs. Putnam and 
Lippincott will do well with their new monthlies is a matter 
of course. It is clearly out of the question that a book-publish- 
ing house of repute and large business connection should find a 
periodical otherwise than remunerative. That the taste of the 
pubHc for literature has grown as well as its appetite is attested 
by recent successes which a few years ago could have found 
no sustaining clientage. There is one measure of paramount 
importance that must be hastened by this literary revival. 
Magazine-writing will become little less than a profession, a 
new class among us, and its members must be paid. Publishers 
will thus be forced to secure protection through an international 

The facts of this editorial are, as usual, more impres- 
sive than the opinions — which well illustrate the futility 
of prophecy. Putnam, as we have seen, did not do well 
with his new monthly; and it was many a weary year 
before some publishers who were then doing well without 
an international copyright found the need of one become 



In George W. Child's memoirs there is a story which 
makes an exclamation point seem but a feeble toy. *' I 
can recall," says he, " a solemn conversation in the office 
of the Harpers, then on Cliff Street. The four founders 
of the great firm were present. I was one of a group 
of Philadelphians and we were discussing the first number 
of Harper's new monthly. It seemed so certain to us 
that the publication would be a failure. * It can't,' said 
one Philadelphian emphatically, * last very long.' The 
only successful magazines then published in the United 
States were in Philadelphia — Graham's, Godey's, Sar- 
tain's and Peterson's/' 

One can understand under these circumstances (or 
perhaps under any) the peculiar bias of Philadelphians; 
but you will look in vain, in authors' letters and reminis- 
cences, for any of those familiar chirps of satisfaction 
which heralded the hatching of almost all the other Ameri- 
can magazines. You will find, instead, curses not loud 
but deep. Indeed, there was no reason why any one, 
besides the publishers themselves, should have hailed the 
advent of Harper's with joy except that notoriously in- 
articulate person, the Average Reader — and he, as was 
soon admitted even by the most disgruntled American 
author, was placed under an everlasting debt of gratitude. 
The Philadelphia magazines, so shortly to be extinguished 
or dimmed by the new luminary, might have merited the 
derision which they later received from those who 
now mocked the meat they had once gladly fed upon, but 
there was never any question that they had saved the 



life of the struggling American author of professional 
potentiality — life which the paddles of the first trans- 
atlantic steamer had well nigh made an end of. For 
when it became possible to get English magazines once a 
fortnight, there had sprung up in New York numerous 
weeklies whose sole purpose was to serve the plunder 
piping hot ; and had it not been for the Philadelphia maga- 
zines, the native author would have found no market 
whatever, so entirely had these weeklies driven out of 
existence the dealers who paid for home products. 
Though like all the magazines they were in the habit of 
printing for nothing what was worth scarcely more, to 
writers who were in demand Philadelphia paid prices 
deemed munificent in those days. And the writers, in 
return, were never weary of testifying that to her they 
owed creation, preservation, and what temporal blessings 
they possessed. And of that gratitude Graham's had the 
lion's share. The United States Gazette cautiously esti- 
mated that sometimes Graham's must be paying as much 
as five hundred dollars a number to American authors. 
But the figure was low, in spite of its being put forward 
as strapping. 

" Graham says he would have given me one hundred 
and fifty dollars for the Legend of Brittany without the 
copyright," wrote Lowell in 1845, ^^^7 three years after 
he had written jubilantly that he might safely reckon on 
earning four hundred dollars by his pen the following 
year. " We have spent as high as fifteen hundred dol- 
lars on a single number for authorship alone," said Gra- 
ham's editorially in 1853. " This is more than twice 
the sum ever paid by any other magazine in America; 
while for years our minimum rate was eight hundred 
dollars per number." In its valedictory to Sar tain's, 
which had made a splendid struggle for three years, there 
is a note of bitterness : 

It has spent over fifteen thousand dollars for original contri- 
butions, and now it is hopelessly wrecked. The publishers 
Spent money with a lavish hand to American writers, but the 


flood of foreign literature overwhelmed the gallant book and 
she has gone down to rise no more. Will there never be pride 
enough in the American people to stand by those who support a 
national literature ! We felt a year ago the demand for Eng- 
lish magazine articles; the success of the reprint magazines con- 
firmed what we felt; and we therefore doubled the number of 
our pages to give our readers, in addition to our former supply 
of original American articles, such papers from foreign sources 
as struck us of value or interest. We shall only add — in an- 
swer to carpers generally — that Graham's for the last ten years 
has paid over eighty thousand dollars to American writers. 

This was in 1852 — two years after the establishment 
of a magazine which had helped to re-create and greatly 
profited by this demand for English magazine articles. 
Graham's had watched anxiously the growth of its com- 
petitor. '^ Harper's is a good foreign magazine, but it is 
not Graham's by a long way," had run an editorial in 
185 1. "The veriest worshipper of the dust of Europe 
will tire of the dead level of silly praise of John Bull 
upon every page. John hasn't quite the brains of all the 
family. Jonathan is not altogether a dolt in letters. 
Graham thinks he has a class of young writers now who 
ask no odds in a fair encounter — Lowell, Read, Legare, 
Godman, Whipple, Fields, Bayard Taylor, Stoddard, 
Hosmer, Street, Boker, Tuckerman, Hawthorne, Conrad, 
Moorhead and others of the young men." Many news- 
papers of the country were watching the struggle with 
indignation. '' Graham's great rival now is Harper's," 
said one of them, "but Graham's equals it in amount 
and quality of literary contents and far exceeds it in 
beauty of illustration — and in the fact that its contrib- 
utors are all honestly paid for their labours." Said 
another : " Graham's is now what Harper's should have 
been. Harper's is a grand failure." Upon which re- 
mark Graham commented grimly : " Our friend is a wag 
in his way. We have done more for magazine writers 
than Harper's will ever do, but one hundred and thirty- 
five thousand copies a month does not seem to us a grand 
failure." This same year of 1852 Boker was writing 
to Stoddard : 


Graham is our only stand-by in these evil times. He is a 
man with a big soul and a gentleman, but his liberality, great 
as it is, cannot support an author. Alas ! alas ! Dick, is it not 
sad that an American author cannot live by magazine writing? 
And this is wholly due to the want of an international copy- 
right law. 

In these documents, then, we find one of the reasons 
why we encounter so little pleasant mention of Harper's 
in authors' correspondence in the fifties. Furthermore, 
there was an indefinable but spacious air of self -righteous- 
ness about the magazine which, taken with what was 
considered the unique opulence of its publishers, seems 
to have greatly annoyed its critics — and not the less, of 
course, because they were less successful. There was, 
for instance, none of the ingratiating impudence which 
Willis had exhibited a few years before when he estab- 
lished the Corsair. Lest the romance of this title should 
deceive any one, Willis had proposed to name it the 
Pirate; and he editorially desired Henry Clay to take it 
into Congress as a people's exhibit of the results of an 
iniquitous law. " We shall convey to our columns," said 
he, '' the cream and spirit of everything that ventures to 
light, in France, England and Germany. As to original 
American productions, we shall, as the publishers do, take 
what we can get for nothing, holding, as the publishers 
do, that while we can get Boz and Bulwer for a thank-ye 
or less, it is not pocket-wise to pay much for Halleck and 

As frankly did Harpers announce their intention, but 
the implication was different. In their New Monthly 
Magazine, June, 1850, occurs A Word at the Start: 

The design is to place within the reach of the great mass of 
the American people the unbounded treasures of the periodical 
literature of the present day. The leading authors of Great 
Britain and France, as well as of the United States, are now 
regular and constant contributors to the periodicals of their 
several countries. The publishers intend to place everything 
of permanent value and interest in this literature in the hands 
of people who up to now have been hopelessly excluded from it. 



The columns of Harper's did not for a long time, 
however, contain any treasures of the ** leading authors 
of the United States." In the Contents of volume one 
appear only a few names, leading or otherwise. They 
are Ik Marvel, William Howitt, Dr. Moore, Leigh Hunt, 
Albert Smith, Harriet Martineau, Frederika Bremer, and 
Robert Southey. Volume three announces that the best 
talent of the country has been engaged in writing and 
illustrating original articles, and the magazine now con- 
tains regularly one or more original articles upon some 
topic of historical or national interest by some able and 
popular writer, illustrated by from fifteen to thirty wood- 
engravings. In the Contents now appear the American 
names : G. W. Curtis, G. P. Morris, Epes Sargent, Jacob 
Abbott, John S. C. Abbott, B. J. Lossing. Setting aside 
Curtis, who w^as one of the editors, and Lossing, whose 
historical articles were a convenient vehicle for illustra- 
tions, the leading authors of the country had no reason to 
regard this list with satisfaction. Volume ten announces 
that, while they have not neglected the rich stores of 
foreign literature, they have gradually enlarged the list 
of their editors and contributors till it includes the names 
of a large portion of the most popular writers of the 
country, and nothing has been wanting to induce them to 
contribute their best productions. But the Contents pre- 
sents only the names of J. T. Headley, G. P. R. James, 
J. Abbott, S. I. Prime, Thomas Ewbank, G. W. Greene, 
Elias Loomis. 

Certainly, no material inducement should have been 
wanting. " Although but six months have elapsed," said 
volume one, " we have a monthly issue of fifty thousand." 
Volume three speaks of the present circulation as enor- 
mous, saying, and with justice, that it has come about 
simply because the magazine gives a greater amount of 
reading matter, of a higher quality, in better style and at 
a cheaper price, than any other periodical ever published. 
Volume six proclaims a monthly edition of one hundred 
and eighteen thousand, and it had to be electrotyped. 


Volume seven announced a gain of seventeen thousand 
over the last. Thus in four short years the magazine 
was financially able to stimulate the best writers to 
contribute to its columns. The Atlantic had not yet come 
to afford the Boston men an outlet; and many New 
Yorkers were complaining that they could not get a living 
price for their wares at home; while the Philadelphia 
magazines, as we have seen, were offering less and less, 
on account of the shrivelling of their subscription. The 
best writers of America had either been uncharacteristic- 
ally deaf to inducement, or Harper^ s considered that they 
were already included in its columns. In the first decade 
of its successful existence Harper's had printed, by the 
standard of contemporary judgment, scarcely a notable 
name. The home-grown treasures it had contributed 
came chiefly from the store of the Abbott brothers — 
Jacob, the father of the immortal Rollo and Lucy, and of 
many histories which on a somewhat wider canvas pre- 
sented life in the same spirit of domestic didactics; and 
John, who piled up during his industrious and exemplary 
existence more than fifty volumes of a moral, religious 
and historical nature. In 1870 he wrote : 

I prepare a monthly article of twenty pages for Harper's, 
and am writing two books, one on the history of Louis XIV 
and the other the History of the Christian Religion. Last week 
I wrote the tenth chapter of this history. I have sent the first 
four chapters of Louis XIV to Harper's and have four other 
chapters completed. In addition to this, I have full charge of 
not a small parish, with all its pulpit and parochial labours; 
it is a rule with me to prepare one new sermon every week. 

It is no wonder that Henry James, senior, complained 
of the " stupid Methodism "of Harper's, or that here and 
there among the sturdy middle class it so triumphantly 
catered to were some who remembered that even in the 
Scriptures it had been written that man should not live 
by bread alone. 

In 1859, after almost a decade of Harper's, Godkin 
could write, from the city which now raised the ancient 


Philadelphia boast of the greatest periodical in the world, 
to a friend in England, his apprehension about the finan- 
cial embarrassment of the Atlantic — with never a hint 
that Harper's was existent : 

Our one, our only, magazine is again in danger. We have 
been for many years dying for a magazine and have been mak- 
ing divers unsuccessful attempts to have one of a high order, 
that would rival your Blackwood or Fraser. Our last attempt 
was Putnam's Magazine, which, after a brilliant career of a few 
years, was at last driven into that last haven of all crazy literary 
craft, " first-class wood-engravings." Boston stepped into the 
breach, however, and set on foot the Atlantic, which was to be 
kept up to the highest point of excellence by contributions from 
both sides of the Atlantic. The British quota, however, was 
not sent in very long, and it has owed a very remarkable suc- 
cess almost entirely to native pens. The articles were rarely 
either so elaborate or so profound, or even so varied in interest, 
as those of its English contemporaries, since that ripe and 
careful cultivation of which good magazine literature is the 
fruit is by no means so general here as with you ; but they were 
incomparably better than any similar recueil that has yet made 
its appearance. 

In reviewing the early history of its magazine, the 
House of Harper, published in 19 12, discloses an uneasy 
appreciation of the need for an apologist. "If Harper's 
Magazine had been started upon the plan of exclusive 
American authorship," it says, " the limitation thus im- 
posed would have been an obstacle to the development of 
its present comprehensive and popular scope. Every 
other American magazine published in 1850 had a definite 
plan which determined its field, and, as a matter of fact, 
had filled its field and had attained its full development. 
As regards literary appeal, the conditions of American 
literature at that time fixed a narrow limit. In this situa- 
tion the Harpers did, as magazine publishers, what for 
many years they had been doing in their book business — 
they brought to readers the richest treasures of literature 
wherever they were to be found, which at that time was 
mostly in periodical publications of Europe." Yet in a 
moment the apologist hastens to announce that its eclectic 


character — in spite of the Hmitations of American 
Hterary appeal — rapidly disappeared in its very infancy. 
Now, it does not appear that the work of the chief native 
authors had undergone any change whatever by the time 
Harper's decided to give a more national tone to its pages. 
But even had this been the case, its readers would not 
have benefited thereby ; for the chief concession the maga- 
zine had made to native authorship was in articles espe- 
cially designed as vehicles for the illustrations that had 
been the other great reason for the financial success of 
the publication — " popular " scientific and historical and 
travel articles, which cheered the family circle without 
any danger of inebriation. These were supplied by 
American ministers and writers of journalistic calibre, 
but for the most part all expression of thought or imagin- 
ation was imported from England. A moment's mar- 
shalling of the men so limited in literary appeal as to 
fail entirely to meet the demands of the early Harper's 
will convince one of the impressiveness of their exclusion. 
We may find them in Parke Godwin's address upon 
Curtis : 

When we began Putnam's, among our promised contributors 
— and nearly all of them made good their promise — were 
Irving, Bryant, Emerson, Longfellow, Lowell, Hawthorne, 
Thoreau, Ripley, Miss Sedgwick, Mrs. Kirkland, J. P. Kennedy, 
Fred Cozzens, Richard Grant White, Melville, Stoddard, Sted- 
man, Read, Maria Lowell. 

The secret of the exclusion of these writers is afforded 
almost in the same paragraph. ** If we were asked why 
we started a monthly magazine," said Fletcher Harper, 
" we would have to say frankly that it was as a tender 
to our business, though it has grown into something quite 
beyond that." The business of the house, the author 
states quite as frankly a little later : 

The Harper brothers saw an enormous reading public in a 
country of cheap literature and an immense store of material 
at their disposal in England, more various and more attractive 
than the home supply; and they resolved to bring the two 


Harper's Magazine, in short, intended to do on a wider 
basis only what Harper's Family Library had done — 
and bring as many kinds of English literary goods as 
possible to an American market. 

There is no reason why it should not have done so, 
but in the process of the lucrative enterprise no outsider, 
except the Average Reader, had any cause for gratitude. 
Knickerbocker, Putnam's, Graham's and the Philadelphia 
sisterhood had all likewise fought according to the 
measure of their intelligence for their place in the sun, yet 
they had fought for the fatherland also — they had fallen 
in the combat, it is true, but they had gone down with 
the sustaining thought of having assisted in furthering 
the cause of American literature. Although Harper's 
splendidly atoned for the sins of her youth, her punish- 
ment endures now when those sins have been forgotten 
by the present grateful generation. Scarcely, in the lives 
and letters of our illustrious of fifty years ago, do we 
come across an appreciative and endearing mention of her 
name, like that which has so often bejewelled all the 
others. Putnam's, while the light of her founder still 
shone in her, contributed generously to the advancement 
of periodical literature in America, but not the least of 
her gifts was bestowed in departing from the field it was 
not given her to win — the nationalisation of Harper's. 
The Atlantic continued the fight, and when Scrihner's 
came along in 1870 to make its notable American success, 
it had become no longer possible for an American maga- 
zine to be mainly nourished from over seas. The con- 
verted corsair had metamorphosed into one of our most 
reliable merchantmen ; and thus we may echo the House 
of Harper in closing the retrospect of its magazine: 
" Looking back upon the one hundred and twenty-one 
volumes, the first impression made upon the mind is their 
real exposition of human activity and interest in the 
half-century and " — when it at last made its delayed 
appearance — " our steady growth in literary and artistic 


For a long time after American authors of a higher rank 
began to appear, the magazine and the other periodicals 
of the house had but Httle room for them. Three novels 
of Dickens', four of Thackeray's, with the Four Georges, 
one of Bulwer's, two of George Eliot's, six of Trollope's 
rather crowded its earlier years. " In the period i860— 
1880," says the House of Harper, "not infrequently we 
would have two and even three foreign serials running 
at the same time in each one of our three periodicals." 
As the prominent English novelists did not, in their 
opinion, often write good short stories, here seemed to 
offer the American opportunity; indeed, the English se- 
rials, the account continues, caused special stress to be 
laid upon short stories of American life. Yet the stories 
submitted could not have been very satisfactory, for on 
the occasion of Justin McCarthy's first visit to America 
they gave him an order for forty-five in a batch. These, 
with an industry which even John Abbott might have en- 
vied, he finished and delivered before returning to the 
smiling shore of Britain. Besides lecturing right and left 
and acting as the literary editor of the Independent! He 
must have looked back upon his tidy trip with satisfac- 

All the more because, although he went to America 
to make money, his immediate literary success came as a 
surprise to him. " Up to the time of my visiting New 
York," he says, " I had published nothing bearing my 
name, but I had published three books anonymously. I 
found on my arrival one of my novels passing as a serial 
through Harper's, which became the means of introduc- 
ing me personally to the house, with which I have had 
many dealings since of the most cordial and satisfactory 
kind." McCarthy does not, unfortunately, tell us how 
it happened that a serial of his could be running in New 
York without his knowledge. But the confusions aris- 
ing from the lack of copyright gave room for endless 
predicaments as well as endless exploitations. William 
James Stillman throws some light on the magazine phase 


of the situation in the Autobiography of a Journa- 

In 1871 I became the London literary agent for Scrihner's 
Magazine, afterward the Century. I was instructed to secure a 
story from a certain author and contracted for the proof sheets 
of her next novel, about to be published in England in a certain 
magazine. On the announcement of Scrihner's of the coming 
publication, the (American) firm who published her prior works 
announced that they would not respect the agreement with the 
author, but would pirate the story. As the result of the quarrel, 
Scrihner's resigned the story to its rival on payment to the lady 
of the sum agreed on. But now appeared an utterly unsus- 
pected state of things: the London magazine had already sold 
the proof sheets of the story to a third American house, and an 
expose of the situation showed that English publishers had been 
in the practice of selling the advance proofs of their most 
popular works and recouping the half of the price paid the 
authors. I wrote to the English papers, which were just now 
indulging in one of their periodical outbreaks against American 
literary piracy, and dwelt on the hitherto unknown point that 
the depredations on the author's interests were committed by 
the English publishers, who sold to the American the wares the 
latter was accused of stealing, whereas the fact was that he 
bought and paid equally for the right of publication, while the 
English publishers continued to reprint American books without 
the least regard for analogous transatlantic rights. ... I was 
treated with a torrent of abuse. Only Mr. Trollope came for- 
ward to sustain me, with the statement that he had received 
mere from Harpers than from his English publishers. The 
author whose novel had been the occasion of the trouble de- 
clared that English authors ought to make me a testimonial, but 
from no other source did I receive a word of thanks. 

To follow all the implications of this interesting story 
would lead us far afield. There was, at any rate, no 
lack of British material, and the success of it in the maga- 
zine amply justified the admirable business perception 
which had thus made a market for it. As Charles Nord- 
hoff said, " Fletcher Harper made few mistakes about 
his public, because he had created it." And even had he 
been seeking to force American writers down its captious 
throat, there was a striking confirmation of the wisdom 
of his policy. We are told that after the conclusion of 
the war the edition of the magazine fell off so greatly 


that he seriously considered terminating its publication; 
but Our Mutual Friend and Wilkie Collin's Arma- 
dale, especially the latter, revived its circulation. After 
all, even when one has created a public, one is as much 
at its mercy as if one had not. It is with gratitude that 
we find that in the mid seventies this infant turned giant 
had at last come to the appreciation of Longfellow (who 
had for some years been getting from one hundred to 
one hundred and fifty dollars a poem in other magazines, 
and for whose Hanging of the Crane Robert Bonner, 
catering to the exclusively intellectual readers of the 
Ledger, had paid three thousand dollars). The poet 
records in 1877 that he has received one thousand dollars 
from them for the right of first publication of Kera- 
mos in their magazine, his earliest mention of any deal- 
ings with them, although he had, through the kindly 
services of Fields, sold them Morituri Salutamus in 
1875. By 1882 Higginson also, having outlived the 
earlier limitations of his appeal, was publishing there 
chapters of his Larger History of the United States: 
and notes, " I have written one of my Harper's papers 
regularly every month for the last eleven months." And 
in 1885 — when he engaged to write a weekly article for 
Harper's Bazar, similar in tone to his Woman's Journal 
papers, but not entering upon the still delicate question, 
from a publisher's point of view, of suffrage — he speaks 
of his great pleasure in an audience of one hundred 
thousand people listening to his voice in all parts of the 
civilised world. 

In artistic excellence, however, the record of America's 
steady growth began from the very beginning. This was 
for precisely the same reason that the other had not. It 
was found before the first year was out that the patrons 
wanted pictorial illustrations; and these, if they were to 
have any appositeness, were better procured in America. 
The prejudice of high-class readers against "picture- 
books " has historically been one of the most amusing of 
their many affectations; and, like a great many others, 


it had little counterpart in their actual practice. Intel- 
lectual people liked pictures whenever they were inter- 
esting; when they were not, it afforded an excellent op- 
portunity to exhibit a fine chastity of taste. The three 
portraits of contemporary historians which enlivened the 
first number of Harper's naturally filled no family circle 
with clamorous joy, nor did the cautious adventures of 
the rest of the first volume. The numbers had, apart 
from fashion-plates, only about half a dozen pictures 
each, and almost all of them were of the highly uninter- 
esting kind which have " literary associations." But 
crude by our standards as are the early wood-cuts, the 
fact that they bore any immediate and spontaneous rela- 
tion to the text was very interesting in itself to readers 
for whom the funeral-baked steel-engravings of Graham's 
and Godey's had coldly furnished forth the wedding feast 
for so many years; and Harper's, emboldened by the 
great success of a new pictorial London paper, tried a 
flyer with some home-made descriptive articles rather 
elaborately and freshly illustrated. The experiment dem- 
onstrated. Until Scribner's was founded in 1870, 
Harper's had, except for a limited flight or two by the 
clipped-winged Putnam's, no competition in the new popu- 
lar specialty. Their rival took a long leap ahead in 
the discovery and development of a new method of print- 
ing illustrations — to which perhaps more than to any 
other one item the success of the American magazine is 
to be ascribed — and Harper's naturally strained every 
nerve to come abreast of her once more. " The compe- 
tition between the two," says the House of Harper, " be- 
came so keen that at times we paid as high as five hundred 
dollars for engraving one page. In 1888, when both 
the Century and Scribner's were in the field, the demand 
for first-class engravers was very great, and the market 
value of their work became a serious consideration for 
the publishers." Thus the competition waxed — to the 
chagrin and often to the cost of authors, who found 
their texts become decidedly second-fiddle — until the 


invention of process reproduction in half-tone worked 
another revohition and began to take the place of wood- 
engraving. But with it the author was in no better case. 
Indeed, he had all the more reason to feel that by the de- 
crees of heaven and publishers the artist was a pampered 
child of fortune. For he was still second-fiddle in prices, 
and the change allowed the artist to gloat over the en- 
graver, whom he had accused of tampering constantly 
with his work; but no revolution of process is yet in sight 
which will compel the illustrator to stick to the author's 
text. Lafcadio Hearn broke his contract with Harper's 
when he found that he was getting less for his Japanese 
sketches than his illustrator, but his fancied superiority 
was as unwarrantable as his folly. Now — in the mak- 
ing of the modem magazine — abideth these three: the 
advertiser, the artist, and the author, and the least of 
these is the last. 

The new journals of opinion founded during Harper's 
first decade and a little later reproached it for having 
none. But it is to be remembered that this was distinctly 
a new idea for a magazine which aimed at large popular 
circulation. Lewis Gaylord Clark, who was in charge 
of the " Drawer," had been editor of Knickerbocker, and 
that urbane old party would have thought it as bad 
taste to divide the company of gentlemen by uttering an 
opinion which all could not share as to raise his voice 
in the lurid accents of the Ledger. Another editor of 
Harper's was H. J. Raymond, who had plenty of opinions 
(proved by his having helped to found the New York 
Tinted and his resigning in five years in order to pay 
exclusive attention to it), but, like Curtis, who also had 
a mind of his own, he was not encouraged to express 
them. Indeed, when Curtis was very forcibly expressing 
his editorial opinion in the Weekly at a later date, Godkin 
of the Nation felt aggrieved that it ran counter to the 
personal opinion of the man. But the real editor, 
Fletcher Harper, kept his eye single unto the prospectus. 
This announced that the magazine intended to supply to 


the family circle of every intelligent citizen in the United 
States, at so low a rate as to give it a value much beyond 
its price, everything of general interest and usefulness. 
And the family circle must not be disrupted by opinions. 
" We shall not, I trust," said Mrs. Malaprop, or some 
other Dogberry, " venture any opinions before ladies." 
It was many years before the ideal of the magazine — 
" that it should lie along the great lines of current 
thought " — was interpreted as other than merely exposi- 
tory. That it should not risk its great circulation by^ 
having opinions was naturally resented by those virtuous \ 
magazines which had thus limited theirs. The obvious/^ 
safety of this course somewhat discredited, in the minds 
of its enemies, the obvious sanity of another — the 
middle path it took between the immoderation of slave- 
holder and of abolitionist. This was also thought to be 
dictated by prudence. It was, however, an opinion shared 
by every property-holder in New York; as was also the 
advocation, after 1 86 1, of the principles of the Republican 
party. Not, then, until it espoused Civil Service Re- 
form, and later the nomination of Grover Cleveland, 
did its subscription list run any risk by reason of its ideas. 
And by that time it was beginning to be discovered that 
nobody gave up reading a magazine which was nine- 
tenths profitable entertainment merely because he dis- 
agreed with the other tenth. It was just about this era 
that Sarah Bernhardt became a great factor in our civili- 
sation by providing a topic of burning discussion in clubs 
and debating societies (a subject which agitated many 
editorial sanctums also) : " Should we go to see an im- 
moral actress? (Especially if foreign?)" But long be- 
fore the Magazine ventured to have opinions of its own, 
it had intrusted them to the Weekly, issued in 1857. 
This, too, announced itself as " adopted for family read- 
ing"; but, being nearer a newspaper by three weeks, 
tradition justified it, family harmony notwithstanding, in 
speaking its mind. How long ago it seems since literary 


magazines, like clergymen, were expected to have plenty 
of sentiments, but no alienating ideas! 

Almost as long ago was it when publishers trusted it 
was not necessary for them to reiterate their assurance 
that nothing should ever be admitted to the pages of the 
magazine in the slightest degree offensive to delicacy or 
any moral sentiment. When Harper's added in volume 
five a department " Pictorial Comicalities " — the matter 
and manner of which was not very dissimilar to Graham's 
"Sips of Punch," begun in 185 1 and followed later by 
" Original Comicalities " — it declared its intention with 
the utmost solemnity : " The most scrupulous care will 
be exercised that humour shall not pass into vulgarity or 
satire degenerate into abuse." 

This whole subject of the sacredness of moral senti- 
ments, which once so concerned our publishers, is, of 
course, extremely skittish. Nor is this the place to dwell 
upon the inevitable absurdities of a censor. It is not so 
long ago that the law of the English-speaking stage 
was, " Say anything you like about seduction, but be 
sure you call it flirtation — except, of course, in a farce " ; 
and since mothers were writing to school teachers, " Don't 
teach my girl anything about her insides ; 'taint no use, 
and besides it's rude." But surely few things are more 
apt to make us blush than the books we once called im- 
moral. "^And the influence of our magazine publishers in 
prolonging our intellectual infancy must have been a 
powerful one.^ The announcements which bleat so 
proudly from all of their opening pages would no longer 
allure subscribers to-day, when the hearth has ceased to 
be a cloister and fathers have given up fondly conceiving 
that the family circle suspends its animation until they 
return with the hour of the evening lamp. The House 
of Harper provides a delightful illustration of how benefi- 
cent has been the flight of time. Can you fancy this 
happening in the sixties, for instance, when the moral 
sensitiveness of Harper's was appalling? 


The Simpletons, afterward Hearts Insurgent, as it appeared 
in the magazine, was published by us in its original form as a 
book, with the title Jude the Obscure. We had said when he 
wrote us that he must assure us it would be in every respect 
suitable for a family magazine. He said it would not offend the 
most fastidious maiden; so we began it. It had not progressed 
far when he informed us that he was distressed to say the de- 
velopment of the story was carrying him into unexpected fields, 
and he proposed that we discontinue it or make any changes 
we desired. We wrote him that we were properly ashamed of 
every word of protest we had to write, but our rule was that 
the magazine should contain nothing which could not be read 
aloud in any family circle. Hardy, without any irritation, re- 
wrote one of the chapters, and we made some modifications as 
the story ran. 

Addisonian in its morality and its sentimentality, it 
was — in the beginning — following in all other respects 
the well-beaten and safe path. Unlike Putnam's and the 
Atlantic, it sought nothing new. The early issues lacked 
only a meteorological page to duplicate its forbears of a 
score of years before. The old titles to the old depart- 
ments are all here, without any effort for individuality 
or originality — Literary and Scientific Miscellany, Lit- 
erary Notices, Monthly Review of Current Events, 
Domestic and Foreign, Fashions. Only in the third 
volume is an attempt made to be interesting in the titles 
of the new departments, Editor's Drawer, Easy Chair, 
and Editor's Table. These headings, like Leaves from 
Punch, were stereotype, but not flavourless, and made 
some slight concession to erring humanity. They did 
not even exhibit any novelty in the type they employed — 
speaking according to sanctified precedent in the tiny 
voice of Alice's gnat, as if their time alone were worth 
a thousand pounds a minute. This third volume, by the 
way, announces that it cost more than either of its prede- 
cessors by five to ten thousand dollars ! A lavish use of 
figures, which becomes all the more convincing when you 
remember that just at this time Graham mentioned (cer- 
tainly not conservatively) one- fourth of the lesser amount 
as a thumping sum for a single number, even when most 


of his authors were paid. The Editor's Table purposed 
to discuss the higher questions of ethics and principles, 
the Drawer was to serve viands otherwise rejectable, the 
Easy Chair was for light and pointed social chat. The 
last was undertaken in 1853 by Curtis, although other 
men contributed to it for several years. Curtis had be- 
come a Harper author with Nile Notes in 185 1, and 
when he became associated with the magazine he was an 
editor of Putnam's, which a little later spoke its mind so 
freely on the policy of its editor's other household. As 
the two publishers were on the most ticklish terms, never 
could a man have had more trouble with his double life; 
and he doubtless returned devout thanks when he became 
monogamous again. In 1863 the Chair was made politi- 
cal editor of the Weekly. This year Mr. Howells joined 
the magazine, and Literary Notices reincarnated under 
the more attractive name of Editor's Study. Here he 
was succeeded by Charles Dudley Warner. The trio is 
a gracious and accomplished one, of which any magazine 
— or era — might be proud. When the Bazar appeared 
in 1867, Curtis took a department in that also. The 
Bazar was the same canny compound of old and new 
which had made the other periodicals so brilliantly suc- 
cessful. Its sub-title, A Repository of Fashion and In- 
struction, might have graced many of our eighteenth 
century magazines; but the ingenious advertising which 
heralded it and its pictorial policy were an outcome of 
Harper's specialised experience. The first Easy Chair, 
so charmingly endeared to later generations by its suc- 
cession of genial occupants, is of interest. 

After our more severe editorial work is done — the scissors 
laid in our drawer and the Monthly Record made as full as 
our pages will bear, of history — we have a way of throwing 
ourselves back into an old red-backed easy chair that has long 
been an ornament of our dingy office, and indulging in an easy 
and careless overlook of the gossiping papers of the day, and in 
such chit-chat with chance visitors as keeps us informed of the 
drift of the town-talk. Having made our course good, we mean 
to catch up in these few additional pages those lighter whiffs 


from the great world of opinion which come floating to us as 
we sit here in our Easy-Chair. 

Thus it records the fire of December, 1853, which cost 
the firm a million and a half dollars and destroyed the 
entire January number of the magazine — and inciden- 
tally demonstrated most triumphantly the Harper effi- 
ciency by delaying it no more than ten days : 

It is now just about a year since we rescued our Easy-Chair 
from the falling timbers and the general wreck of our great 
fire. This Easy-Chair can never forget how along the wires 
came thrilling a thousand messages of cheerful encouragement, 
of prompt offers of aid, and of the most generous sympathy. 
But not only is our Easy-Chair planted again, but a great part 
of the building in which it stands is restored. The same old 
square between Cliff Street and Pearl Street will be occupied 
by the new structure. 

" Wesley Harper told me," wrote Charles Nordhoff, 
" that the fire seemed at first a heaven-sent opportunity 
to give up business. They were abundantly wealthy. 
* We never dared let our children know how well off we 
were,' he said, * for fear of spoiling their lives.' " Nord- 
hoff tells his experience in Some Editors I have Known : 

I came into the firm in the fall of 1856. Mr. Fletcher Harper 
was then in his prime and planning the establishment of a 
weekly paper. I was a young man and very much unknown. 
I had offered them a small book for children and had signed 
the contract, when he suddenly asked me if I should like to 
come to them. I was to have no specific duties, but would have 
to find my place and work. On my first appearance in Franklin 
Square I felt as uncomfortable as a very young cat in a very 
strange garret. I found it literally true that for a while I had 
no regular duties. I wrote some things, of which a few were 
used; I read foreign papers and made extracts; at the sugges- 
tion of an editor, whose kindness to a very depressed young 
man I have never forgotten, I " gutted " a new book of travel 
and adventure — that is to say, I made out of the most readable 
parts of it a magazine article, and this, to my delight, was 
printed ; and of this kind of work I did later a good deal. Then 
I became one of the readers. . . . Mr. Fletcher Harper had a 
sound popular judgment. In respect to magazine articles he 
often stood alone — but his judgment was final. " Whether 
we ought to publish it" meant with him whether it would be 



intelligible, interesting and useful to the average American 
reader. Mr. Harper made very few mistakes. He was a most 
lovely character, unpretentious and considerate to all in his 
employ. I suppose the other brothers would have freely owned 
that Mr. Fletcher Harper was the ablest of them all, but they 
were a united band. 

Like Beecher, he was an editor without a desk. " He 
was a great editor," wrote Dr. Lyman Abbott. " I do 
not think Mr. Harper ever wrote a line for publication. 
I doubt whether he ever read a manuscript but he created 
the Magadne and the Weekly and the Bazar and per- 
vaded them with his own informing spirit. He created 
a new school of journaHsm.'* 

In 1874 Harper's followed the lead of Scrihner^s and 
the Atlantic in introducing the transformed South and 
its new writers. This exceedingly great service to the 
cause of the American reunion, as well as of American 
letters, had been begun the year before. Its effect upon 
the Southern attitude toward the North was immediate. 
" Contrary to the idea which had prevailed in the South 
after the war," says Mr. Edwin Mims in his Life of 
Lanier, " that Northern people would refuse to recognise 
Southern genius, it was the Northern magazines which 
made possible the success of Southern literature." Har- 
per's in January, 1874, began a series of articles on the 
New South, and the next year Constance Fenimore 
Woolson began to write her Southern articles. In 1887 
Southern literature, thanks to Scribne/s and the Atlantic, 
had now become of such bulk and quality as to hold a 
conspicuous place in periodical output, and Harper's 
devoted an appreciative article to it, saying that it had 
introduced a stream of rich warm blood. In opening 
another new field Harper's was nip and tuck with Scrih- 
ner's, but, as before, the latter seems to have nipped first. 
This was the issuing of an English edition. It started 
off in 1880 with a large circulation, and there was in the 
beginning a difference in the editorial departments. 
" The delicacy and beauty of the illustrations," says the 
House of Harper, " found nothing comparable in Europe ; 


and it was the English edition of Harper's which made 
Europe acknowledge our superior work in rapid fine art 
printing." But Scrihner's also rather piqued itself on 
making Europe sit up and take notice — the inborn crav- 
ing of every true American heart — and feeling that she 
was ahead of her rival in illustration, as well as in prior- 
ity of the invasion of London, she naturally claimed that 
honour. " The founding of an English edition," said 
she in 1881, " seemed on the face of it like carrying coals 
to Newcastle. It was not many years since American 
monthlies largely lived upon the productions, sometimes 
bought and sometimes stolen, of English writers. Start- 
ing with an edition of two thousand, it now issues iij-. 
England eighteen thousand. The daring of the pub-~7 
lishers has given an impetus to American literature in ( 
England, two other magazines having since issued English 

Her rivalry with Scribner's-Century was always a 
touchy subject with Harper's, Dr. H. M. Field in his 
paper, The Evangelist, wrote in 1894 a straddling article 
entitled Is There a Falling Off in Our Magazines, or 
Are They Better Than Ever? It was difficult to ex- 
tract his meaning, for what he took away with one hand 
he gave back with the other. But it was at least appar- 
ent that he had praised the Century, and condemned some 
qualities which Harper's shared with the other popular 
magazines. " The idea of Harper's learning a lesson 
from the Century is not objectionable," wrote Mr. H. M. 
Alden in reply, " as I hope we are not above learning a 
lesson from any quarter. There would have been no 
competition if the Century had not so entirely adopted 
the plan of Harper's from beginning to end, even in its 
editorial department. This was a very comprehensive 
lesson taught by Harper's to the Century, as, indeed, to 
every popular illustrated magazine that could hope for 
wide success." As we have already seen, neither the 
idea of their editorial departments nor of addressing the 
average family circle originated with Harper's; what the 


magazine chiefly resented was the imputation of " stoop- 
ing to a lower level of readers." But it was an accusa- 
tion that once the firm would have gloried in, and did 
when charged with it by certain unsuccessful magazines. 
Harper's had grown with the growing age, that is all; 
and was a little ashamed to recall that its estimate of the 
average family circle had once been somewhat lower than 
now could be remembered with any pride. As for the 
rest of Dr. Field's charge, it ran as follows : 

They have carried illustrations to such an extent that they 
(the magazines) are becoming more and more picture-books, 
very beautiful to the eye, but a little wearisome to one who 
looks for something besides " embellishments," while in their 
contents there is a little too much of froth and foam for my 
antiquated taste. Whereas I once felt that life was hardly 
worth living if I did not have my monthly magazines, I now 
feel that I could at least endure existence if those stars in the 
literary firmament should disappear. 

Mr. Alden wrote in somewhat pointed rejoinder to this 
part of the accusation: 

I will admit that we are not making so prominent the editorial 
features as we did a generation ago — simply because other 
agencies meet the popular need. We never treated political or 
religious questions; but recently, far more than formerly, have 
we laid open the more hidden phases of European politics and 
the most important phases of religious development. It is a 
good thing for you and me (who are growing older) that there 
are now special periodicals, religious, scientific, artistic and po- 
litical, to which we can resort for the satisfaction of our schol- 
arly interests in these several fields, untroubled and undisturbed 
by the fluctuating and ever-changing moods of a world that in- 
sists upon living as strongly as we insist upon studying. 

This was a good enough answer, but there were ob- 
viously three better ones which he was constrained from 
making. It would perhaps have been impolitic to express 
his surprise that any one could prefer the didactic and 
wishy-washy tone of the old Harper's to the tone of the 
modern magazine; it would perhaps have been impolite 
to point to the pages of the dull and feeble Evangelist as 
the sort of thing they had now learned to avoid; and it 


would perhaps have proved embarrassing to inquire what 
in that year's contents had given Dr. Field the impression 
of prevailing foam and froth. Merely to open the two 
bound volumes of that year gives a reminiscent delight. 
Where could be found a more varied, substantial, and 
well-seasoned feast? Dr. Field confessed to as much 
loftiness of spirit about stories as about pictures — but 
friends who had read them didn't feel repaid for their 
time. Well, they were by Miss Wilkins, Constance 
Woolson, Ruth McEnery Stuart, Sarah Orne Jewett, Eg- 
bert Craddock, Owen Wister, R. H. Davis, and Howard 
Pyle. As for serials, the year was made remarkable by 
one of the most exquisite of American romances — A 
Kentucky Cardinal, by James Lane Allen — and Trilby, 
by Du Maurier, which if it stooped to a lower level of 
readers, stooped to conquer the world, since it was by 
universal admission more popular with more kinds of 
readers than any other serial ever published. But to turn 
to something Dr. Field at least would not recoil from 
unread, since it provided the educational and informa^ 
tional food he craved, there were, among an opulent list 
of topics, Charleston in 1861, Egypt and Chaldea 
in Recent Discoveries, Emperor William's Stud Farm 
and Hunting Forest, The English Senate, Russia 
and Her Jews, Tuberculosis and Its Prevention, Relation 
of Life to Style in Architecture, a series of articles on 
Great American Industries and some studies of the 
Comedies of Shakespeare, together with instalments of 
Mr. Howells's charming literary recollections. Other 
authors were Frederic Remington, George W. Smalley, 
Edwin Lord Weeks, Poultney Bigelow, and Arthur 
T. Hadley — a light and frothy crew! It was a 
golden year. What volume of Knickerbocker's or Put- 
nam's or Graham's or Godey's could have made his 
life more worth living when he was young? Dr. Field 
confessed that he might be growing old, but what 
rose-misted reminiscence of youth could so enhalo any 
periodical in the whole history of America as to entitle 


it to stand beside the plain fact of Harper's, 1894! And 
except for the beatific chance of the two serials, the year 
was not unrepresentative. Fashions in literature come 
and go, and the worst as well as the best of magazines 
must follow them; after a season of grey half -tints and 
an exasperating cultivation of nuances, swings in a sea- 
son of splurge and an equally exasperating welter of 
red blood — with the change the individual liking may 
expand or contract, but it should admit, if it recognise 
that a magazine is published for more than one sub- 
scriber, a steady level of catholic excellence in Harper's 
which it would be difficult to suggest ways of surpassing. 



The first distinctively religious magazine printed in 
America was the Christian History, 1743-45. The sec- 
ond came twenty years later and presented two unusual 
features. It was printed in German and used in its 
twelfth number the first German types cast in this country. 
The second feature was not duplicated until the appear- 
ance over a century later of Sunday School organs. It 
was not for sale but was distributed without money and 
without price. In spite of its prodigality, it continued 
to be published at Germantown from 1764 to 1770. 
Though most of the subscribers to the other early re- 
ligious magazines got them for nothing, it was not by the 
intention of the proprietors. Foreseeing the delinquency 
of their patrons, some magazines made sure of a fund 
to keep them going. But this was sometimes perfidiously 
withdrawn, as in the case of the United States Christian 
in 1796 ; and the magazine after a hand to mouth existence 
on subscriptions only, perished. Many of the magazines 
gravely pledged every cent of their profits to the mis- 
sionary cause, although they must have known that if 
they paid expenses they would be succeeding beyond hope. 
So soon did guile begin in religious periodicals. 

Of the eighteenth century magazines, however, com- 
paratively few are devoted to religion. A glance at the 
list of our early publications shows why. Almost the 
entire publishing output of the period consisted of re- 
ligious books and tracts. The general magazine, indeed, 
seems to have reckoned upon elbowing its way into a 
community where most of the lettered were devout, simply 



because it afforded some variety to the everlasting diet of 
disquisitions. But it did not, for the most part, venture 
too boldly. For a long time it was as much religious as 
literary; just as when the religious magazine began to 
emerge later, it was for a long time as much literary as 
religious. Here is a title which sounds edifying in the 
extreme yet it heralded nothing distinctively religious — 
the Young Man's Magazine (Philadelphia 1786) "Con- 
taining the Substance of Moral Philosophy and Divinity, 
selected from the works of the most eminent for Wisdom, 
Learning and Virtue Among the Ancients and Moderns." 
Nevertheless, there is a smack of this-worldliness about 
it which one does not savour in the title, the Theological 
Magazine (New York 1796-99) "A Synopsis of Mod- 
ern Religious Sentiment." But this editor announced 
that he particularly desired to please. Not only did he 
hope to have all his pieces original and recently written, 
but he wanted them short also — sermons thus being in 
all three particulars disqualified. " Anecdotes, remark- 
able Providences, and the experiences of Dying Christians 
preferred." Some religious magazines, however, spread 
this table with the stern fare of sermons only, as 'was 
the case with the Royal Spiritual or the Christian's Grand 
Treasure. By Several Divines (1771). 

It took the Baptist Missionary Messenger, started in 
1803, five years to complete its first volume; but now, 
more than a centurion, it can look back indulgently on 
the intermittent chills and fever of its infancy. Another 
Baptist magazine, labouring under the singularly unat- 
tractive title of Analytical Repository, had been attempted 
in 1 80 1, but could not survive. In the very incomplete 
list of eighteen magazines which Isaiah Thomas men- 
tioned in 1 8 10, only four are religious. The Panoplist 
and the Christian Monitor of Boston, the Evangelist of 
Hartford, the Churchman's Magazine of New York. To 
the somewhat sharp dealing on the part of the last named, 
we owe a fifth religious periodical, the Magazine of Ec- 
clesiastical History. A printer who had been given the 


contract for the Churchman's had been sent South by the 
editors to canvass for subscribers, and while on his mis- 
sion the printing was coolly withdrawn from him and 
placed elsewhere. To get even he started a religious 
magazine of his own (to which, let us hope, he was able 
to shift all the subscribers he had drummed up !). Thus, 
as might have aptly quoted some na'ive contemporary 
divine (of another persuasion, of course) doth the Lord 
make the wrath of man to please Him. 

The early religious periodicals had been for the most 
part in the interests of Christianity at large, and the few 
which were denominational were only mildly so. But 
since sermons were their chief religious provender and 
they were published by Church societies, it was inevitable 
that as time went on all the sects should have their own 
representatives. Of the one hundred and thirty-seven 
periodicals begun between 1815 and 1833, Mr. W. B. 
Cairns says that about fifty were religious in character. 
In the West the emotional element in religion received 
more attention, but in the East the discussion of theology 
remained supreme. It was carried on with fierce in- 
tensity. The entire literary strength of the smaller towns 
was exhausted in the flowering of one religious organ; 
and even Boston, at the period of her brightest intellects, 
diverted most of her intellectual energy to theological 
controversy. At the close of this period came a great 
religious awakening through all the States, which for a 
while sought in varying forms a larger emotional expres- 
sion, but in the decade 1835-45 ecclesiastical turmoil 
reached its climax. 

In all of the churches except the Catholic, had arisen 
controversies which demanded their own special mouth- 
pieces. Even in the Church of England, which after the 
Revolution organised into the Protestant Episcopal 
Church, the retention of old types under new condi- 
tions gave rise to dissensions. Just as it became the 
most influential religious body in the country, the Pres- 
byterian Church was in 1837 sundered by its great schism. 


There were three parties in the society, and there was 
that year for the first time in seven years an Old-School 
majority in the Assembly. Whereupon, without notice 
or specification, it excommunicated four-ninths of its 
membership. For thirty years almost half of the church 

— under the same name, doctrines, ritual, and discipline 

— existed separately. Naturally, the organs of the ex- 
Presbyterians, thus conceived by sin and created in wrath, 
devoted themselves more to light than to sweetness. 
Such high-handed methods did not bring about absolute 
rupture in the other bodies, but in all of them internal 
discord cried aloud for vengeance. " The Churchman 
and other periodicals," says Archdeacon Tiffany in his 
history of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America, 
" evidenced the growth of church interest, but also in- 
crease of church strife, which they did nothing to allay 
but everything to inflame." The Congregationalists had 
early developed a liberal body which was moving towards 
Unitarianism. The Monthly Anthology which several 
liberalists had started in 1803 was met by the Panoplist 
in 1805, founded " by an association of Friends to Evan- 
gelical Truth," and this began at once to force the Lib- 
erals to define their position. 

Thus, everywhere there were controversies; and each 
voiced its righteous indignation in the existing church 
organs or created others for the same purpose. And 
each man wrote as if he might never change his mind 
again. Orestes Brownson, far more temperate than most 
in his denunciations, passed through Baptist, Presbyterian, 
and Unitarian churches to become Roman Catholic at 
last. When no suitable temple could be found for the 
enlarging soul, one was constructed forthwith. " How 
can I live," said Dr. Dollinger, " in a country where they 
found a new church every day ! " Emerson, Ripley, W. 
H. Channing, Pierpont all began as clergymen and moved 
into a wider world, but before they went threats of heresy 
trials were rife. Turn where you might, you heard angry 
and harsh voices hurtling from the religious arena. An 


inspection of the religious magazines of the first half of 
the nineteenth century, recalls the story told of a Scotch 
minister who, having written a particularly melting tract 
on the Divine Love, asked a friend to whom he had sub- 
mitted his previous tract on the Divine Wrath against 
schismatists, what he should name it. " Why not call 
it," answered his friend, *' Come to Jesus, by the author 
of Go to the Devil?" 

Between the unsuccessful early attempts to float reli- 
gious magazines of a mild sectarianism and the later hectic 
activity in founding periodicals which flourished on 
mutual vituperation, had interposed a decided lull. In it, 
religious magazines grew more and more infrequent in 
their issues and the subscribers more and more languid in 
their support. When the Episcopal Church of Vermont 
began in 1813 the quarterly Theological Magazine and 
Religious Repository, the editor announced that monthlies 
calculated to convey religious instruction had most of 
them been discontinued, and he believed that if the 
churches could not support a monthly they might support 
a quarterly. But this same year another editor, basing 
his reasoning on the same phenomenon, arrived at a dia- 
metrically different conclusion. Why should not a re- 
ligious periodical supply the news also, and come out as 
often as a Gazette? The idea was destined to elevate 
the religious press of America into first rank, not only 
at home but among the publications of the entire world. 
As far as can be seen, it was destined also to have an- 
other result of perhaps equal importance — namely, to 
defer for a great many decades the establishment of any 
.„-^^ermanent literary magazine by largely decreasing the 
available audience for one. In Philadelphia, which had 
mothered every other new experiment in literature and 
was to mother many more, was started the religious 
weekly newspaper, the Remembrancer. The innovation 
took root at once. Ten journals in various parts of the 
country were quickly founded in imitation. The Boston 
Recorder and Telegraph and Zion's Herald had a circu- 


lation of five thousand each by 1826; and the Watchman, 
the Christian Register, and the Universalist Magazine 
printed a thousand copies a week. By 1828 there were 
thirty-seven of these religious newspapers and one of 
them, the Christian Advocate, had a weekly circulation 
of fifteen thousand — the largest, it was claimed, then 
reached by any newspaper in the world, not excepting the 
London Times. This paper was published by the Metho- 
dist Book Concern in New York in 1826. In the two 
years it had already devoured the Missionary Journal of 
Charleston, South Carolina, and it leapt to its supreme 
position by the simple device of finishing off its repast 
with the Boston Zion's Herald; and for two years more 
it did not run the risk of losing a single old subscriber 
by dropping the name of either of its constituents. A 
man must have felt that he got his money's worth when 
he took in for one subscription the Christian Advocate and 
Missionary Journal and Zion's Herald, Dr. Howard 
Bridgman says that in 1833 the circulation of religious 
papers in New York City exceeded the circulation of 
all its secular newspapers, and it was the penny daily 
started by the New York Sun which first made the news- 
paper proper a formidable competitor. The Philadel- 
phia idea of grafting the religious element upon the news 
journal made its first near approach to literature when it 
was seized upon by Nathaniel Willis in the Boston Re- 
corder. This aimed to do slightly more of the same 
sort of thing that the Christian Science Monitor does to- 
day — to give the news and an editorial presentation of 
public affairs uncoloured by partisanship, and to introduce 
as much religious intelligence as could be made con- 
sistent with this aim. The paper continued an independ- 
ent existence until 1867, when it was engulfed in the em- 
brace of a young and lusty rival, the C ongregationalist 
begun in 1849. For the Baptists the Watchman begun in 
18 19 absorbed the Christian Reiiector in 1848 and the 
Christian Era in 1875, and still sends out its cry. The 
Examiner is a seven-branched candlestick and shines with 


the light of six other luminaries which it gathered to 
itself. The Religions Herald, 1828, still continues. Be- 
fore the religious denominational magazine had time to 
gain as firm a foothold in America as in Europe, the 
weekly religious newspaper had established itself and 
taken all the patronage. Before the religious magazine 
had discovered that strife was the law of life, the re- 
ligious weekly, already attractive by reasons of furnishing 
the secular news, had made its position invulnerable by 
the superior advantages it offered for immediate retort 
in controversial discussion. 

In the meantime, the literary element had been grow- 
ing, and particularly up Boston way. The Monthly 
Anthology had formed the starting point of the half- 
religious, half-Hterary impulse which was so marked a 
characteristic of the first New England Unitarians and 
of which our New England literature is so largely an 
embodiment. When the Anthology went to its rest, they 
continued writing for its reincarnation, the North Ameri- 
can, and for the various religious papers of Boston. 
William Ellery Channing, who was minister in Boston 
from 1803 to 1842, wrote innumerable book reviews for 
the Christian Examiner; and Theodore Parker's pen was 
busy not only in his own magazine but elsewhere. Both 
the Massachusetts Quarterly and the Dial, in their short 
brilliant lives, were very valuable in bringing to public 
expression the brainy men who, having passed from 
Liberal Congregationalism into Unitarianism, now felt 
compelled to let not even the last mentioned roomy dome 
shut them from heaven. The Unitarian clergymen, early 
and late, have always had a literary turn. William 
W^are, editor of the Christian Examiner, wrote often for 
Knickerbocker and was author of several novels which 
in themselves rather summed up the Unitarian blend of 
literature and religion, being of the type of which Ben 
Hur proved later the most successful example. 

The Christian Examiner, 1824, was a development of 
an earlier periodical begun in 18 14 by his brother Henry. 


Its first number announced : " The Christian Disciple 
being in some numbers exhausted, it became convenient 
to adopt another title, but we do not propose any con- 
siderable deviation from the plan of the former v^ork. 
We trust that the temper in which, as occasion shall re- 
quire, we shall maintain our disputed sentiments will not 
be found deficient in gentleness and candour. We shall 
advocate a liberal theology but give it only its due space." 
Bryant wrote to Ware in 1842: "I am sorry to hear 
that the Christian Examiner is not so successful as it 
should be. The cause to which you ascribe it is doubtless 
the true one — that of its having taken the review form, 
which is too solemn and didactic for the public taste." 
From the year 1842 James Freeman Clarke had been a 
frequent contributor to the paper and he wrote for it con- 
stantly until it was absorbed in Old and New, to which 
journal he also contributed. " When I returned to Bos- 
ton in 1856," wrote Dr. Hale, " for two or three years 
I had a certain responsibility in the editing and then was 
appointed to take charge of Old and New, established 
under the auspices of the Unitarian Association. It was 
a monthly magazine which we started under what I still 
think a well-conceived idea that if we took the acceptable 
form of a literary and political journal, we could carry 
to thousands of people intelligent discussions on the sub- 
ject of religion which they would otherwise never have 
heard. I venture to say that we attempted to do what the 
Outlook does so well to-day." 

When the Dial had run its too brief course, Mr. Frank 
Sanborn, the last of the Emersonian group, says that its 
readers went back to the North American Review and the 
Christian Examiner (satisfying as best they might their 
twin literary and religious impulses), till in 1847 the 
Massachusetts Quarterly was started, to die in its turn 
at the end of the third volume. Emerson, a year or so 
before he began the Dial and while the project was being 
spaciously discussed by its abstracted progenitors, had 
been writing for a remarkable journal maintained single- 


handed by that remarkable personality Orestes A, Brown- 
son. He had begun the dignified Boston Quarterly in 
1838, and his reasons for doing so were the same as , 
Emerson's for beginning the Dial. The religious con- j 
victions he had possessed — and he had possessed sev- ^ 
eral — no longer held him, and even the most liberal 
Unitarian periodical he now felt to bind him unduly. 

The Boston Quarterly Review 'occupied part of the 
interval during which Brownson having pushed his way 
beyond the furthest frontier of Unitarianism had set up 
his habitation in No-Man's Land. Said the Christian 
Examiner in 1844: "The most remarkable occurrence 
in our literary world is the re-appearance of Mr. Brown- 
son's review, with even more of his peculiar mental char- 
acter impressed upon it, since now it is exclusively from 
his pen alone. Whatever be thought of his opinion and 
changes of opinion, no one can deny the earnestness and 
industry of his mind, his power and skill as a writer, or 
the courageous and almost reckless independence with 
which he throws his views before the public. His con- 
nection with the Democratic Review having been found 
mutually inconvenient, has been dissolved." Brownson's 
contract with O' Sullivan had been to print what he 
pleased. But his articles were often opposed to the 
policy of the party and cost the magazine many sub- 
scribers. In a few years he was editing a Catholic quar- 
terly in the same dignified and earnest manner. His 
inquiring spirit searching freedom had made the circuit 
of the Theologies, and put in at last at an even tighter 
port than the one he set out from. And erratic though \ 
his course had been, the eyes of the pilot still looked out I 
from the bridge with serene and just eyes. " Aside from : 
its theology, with which of course we have no sympathy " 
he wrote in Brownson's Quarterly 1849, " the Christian 
Examiner is second to no periodical in the country ; and 
it was in its pages that Channing, Norton, Ware, the 
Peabodys, Lawson, Walker, Frothingham, Dewey, Rip- 
ley, and others first became generally known to the read- 


ing public and acquired their literary reputation. We 
have many pleasant as well as painful recollections con- 
nected with it, for we were ourselves for several years 
counted among its contributors." Nevertheless, even 
the most authoritative institution known to mankind 
could not entirely muzzle Brownson. Though he re- 
mained a Catholic for the rest of his life, he collided with 
the church on several questions. Brownson's last-re- 
vived Review, in 1873, ^^s the first American periodical 
reprinted in England, where it had a large circulation. 

In 1849 there were thirteen Catholic journals, eleven 
once a week, one once a month, one a quarterly — ten in 
the English language, two in the German, one in the 
French. " The people on whom these journals have to 
depend," wrote Brownson, " are for the most part recent 
emigrants from foreign countries, of limited education 
and means. That the Catholic press has been able to do 
no more need not surprise us; that they have been able 
to do so much and do it so well is the wonder." 

But the civil and dignified tone of the Unitarians, 
fixed or progressive, and of Brownson when he became 
a Catholic spokesman, was a solitary phenomenon. It 
was soon after 1830 that the religious press, already 
sufficiently strident, began to grow more aggressively 
denominational and theological. Politeness had always 
been looked upon with suspicion by the church, and when 
the words in the mouth were as soft as butter it was 
because Satan lurked in the heart. By the close of the 
decade the nation was shaken with grave social and 
political issues, and it brought to them its fiercely polemi- 
cal spirit — matched, to be sure, by the fiercely partisan 
spirit of the secular papers. The church by this time 
had moved much nearer to general social life. Internal 
activities like the Sunday School and the Temperance 
movements had thrown open its doors. Those who had 
looked upon the Sunday School as an innovation quite as 
worldly as the earlier introduction of the fiddle and then 
the organ into the sanctuary, had a firm basis for their 


fears — it was the Sunday School movement, as we 
shall see, which began the undermining of denominational 
religion. Total abstinence was another relaxing in- 
fluence, as the parishioners of Pierpont may have fore- 
seen when they turned him out of the pulpit of the HolHs 
Street Society in Boston for preaching it. But as yet 
neither of these socialising elements had largely entered 
the religious papers. The Roman Catholic press had 
remained from policy as aloof from American affairs as 
the Protestant press had been from self-absorption; but 
now by reason of the great increase in immigration it 
was being brought into collision with the public-school 
system. In the great question of slavery which now 
began to rock the nation, however, almost the entire re- 
ligious press stood silent until it was forced to declare 

The Protestant Episcopal papers had never had very 
much to say on the subject. In both the Methodist and 
Baptist denominations, the agitation culminated in the 
deliberate partition of the church between North and 
South, the Methodists in 1844 and the Baptists in 1845. 
Yet with the exception of Zion's Herald, Methodist 
papers of the North condemned abolitionism; and the 
slave-holding Methodists of course supported slavery as 
a divine institution. Not until 1842 did the Christian 
Advocate admit an editorial upon it. " The Christian 
Advocate and Journal'^ said the Zion's Watchman, es- 
tablished 1836, " has from time to time during two years 
past indiscriminately applied to the Abolitionists uncour- 
teous and unchristian names. It has given an incorrect 
and mischievous view of their sentiments, by denouncing 
them in severe and censorious language, and refused them 
the privilege of explaining their views when they be- 
lieved themselves misunderstood or defending themselves 
against the unjust charges which they believed that paper 
had published against them." The Zion's Herald, an- 
other Methodist paper, early opened its columns to free 
discussion of slavery but refused to take a stand. The 


theological professors at Andover agreed with the 
Southern ministry that slavery had divine sanction, and 
signed a proclamation saying so. The large body of the 
clergy of all denominations refused to countenance the 
Abolitionists, and the American Tract Society cut out 
all condemnation of slavery from its English reprints. 

It was with the intention of providing an organ for 
a liberal and anti-slavery Congregationalism that the In- 
dependent was started in 1848 by H. C. Bowen and three 
others, yet one of its proprietors withdrew because in 
course of time it declared itself too vigorously. In 1898 
the paper published a retrospect of its fifty years of life. 
Dr. R. S. Storrs, one of its first editors, wrote thus : 

When it began, relations in all the sects externally and in- 
ternally were very much strained, and at the same time was go- 
ing on the even fiercer debate, perturbing and exciting beyond 
comparison, on Slavery. This dangerous disturbance added a 
new one to religious controversy, only the Episcopal Church 
being apathetic on the subject. The American Tract Society, 
vociferous on dancing and novel-reading, was utterly dumb on 
the subject, to its everlasting disgrace; likewise the American 
Sunday School Union and the American Board of Missions. 
The American Anti-Slavery Society had been organised fifteen 
years before. It was into these times of clashing forces and 
fermenting excitements, religious and political, that the Inde- 
pendent entered. Above all, it gave immense assistance to the 
often buffeted but ever renewed anti-slavery sentiment. But 
for it, I do not think that three thousand and more New Eng- 
land ministers would have entered their protest against the 
Kansas-Nebraska Bill, or even that the Republican party would 
have been victorious in i860. Senators Chase, Sumner, 
Seward, and President Lincoln were frankly earnest in spon- 
taneous acknowledgment of its great service. 

Lincoln said to Theodore Cuyler at their first meeting, 
" I keep up with you in the Independent." Well might 
he do so, for amid so much sycophancy and truckling 
the paper had made good its title. This in itself marked 
a new epoch. " How well I remember the first num- 
ber ! " says Edward Everett Hale. " At last we young- 
sters knew that we had a journal the editors of which 
were not ashamed to say they were independents. They 


did not mean to have the general drift of the paper dic- 
tated to them. Even John Cotton and John Winthrop 
v^ere afraid of the word * independent,' and all the other 
lights of the new-born Congregationalism." Though it 
was started as a Congregational paper, its announcement 
created consternation in many a Congregational pulpit. 
It did not intend to squabble about internal controversies 
but to insist upon a fearless application of Puritan doc- 
trines to social problems, especially slavery. At once it 
became a social and political force. When Greeley was 
editor of the Tribune, he wrote for the Independent at 
twenty-five dollars an article. " Beecher's leaders have 
never been surpassed in American journalism," thinks 
Dr. Abbott. " Only the Tribune and the Evening Post 
exerted so powerful an influence in creating and guiding 
public opinion during the decade before the war. When 
Beecher took control in December, 1861, he said that he 
would assume the liberty of meddling with every ques- 
tion which agitated the civil or Christian community, and 
his efforts would be, as heretofore, to promote vital god- 
liness rather than sectarianism." 

In the first ten years of its existence it lost eighty 
thousand dollars, wrote Dr. William Hayes Ward, who 
came to be one of its editors nearly twenty years later. 
At the outbreak of the war, it was compelled to suspend. 
When it resumed, it relinquished its thirteen year old 
policy of three editors for the sole editorship of Henry 
Ward Beecher, who for three years had been publishing 
his sermons there. Under Beecher it ceased entirely to 
champion Congregationalism and became undenomina- 
tional. As Beecher did not care to give much of his 
time to editorial work, and indeed was temperamentally 
unfitted for routine of that sort, he made Theodore Til- 
ton his assistant editor; and in 1864 Tilton officially took 
the position he had actually filled since coming into the 
office. In 1866, says Dr. Abbott, the publication of the 
weekly Beecher sermon was suspended without explana- 
tion or notice; and Beecher was deluged with protests 


from subscribers who assumed that he had withdrawn his 
sermons from the paper because it had criticised him. 
In a short while he gave notice to Mr. Bowen that he 
wished to sever his connection with the paper. " I en- 
tered just after the brilHant but erratic rule of Mr. 
Tilton," resumes Dr. Ward. " Tilton, like Beecher, 
wrote little except his article. Differences of policy as 
to religious faith dictated Tilton's retirement." Dr. 
Abbott says that his utterances on religious questions 
had been increasingly distasteful to the orthodox churches 
and he was thought to promote social heresies as well, and 
at last Mr. Bowen dismissed him. The proprietor and 
publisher then assumed editorial control himself, having 
been kept on the anxious seat long enough by reason of 
the theological eccentricities of his staff. He made Dr. 
Edward Eggleston his superintending editor for two 
years, and then Dr. Ward took his place. Like most 
anti-slavery ites, after the war it looked around for a 
new cause and selected woman's suffrage. Up to 1873, 
says Ward, it had been the largest blanket sheet in the 
country, and when it wanted more space it cut down the 
size of its pages and increased their number. Towards 
the end of the century it repeated this process. In the 
late sixties it had greatly extended its circulation by a 
liberal premium system — dictionaries, steel engravings, 
sewing machines — a method of the day, now almost for- 

But to return to Dr. Storr's reminiscences. 

The process of starting a newspaper then was about as sim- 
ple as pitching a summer tent. No vast capital and prolonged 
preparation were needed. It was a time of vehement discussion 
on questions engaging public attention, most of which have now 
ceased to be exciting. The controversy between Old School 
and New School Presbyterians was as severe as if the union 
which took place in 1869 were impossible. Among Congrega- 
tionalists, doctrinal discussion was incessant, and by no means 
always intelligent or high-toned. Religious controversy is 
never apt to be conciliatory, and it was then as sharp and spite- 
ful as I have ever known it. In the Episcopal Communion, the 
contest between High and Low was as violent as anywhere else. 


and the two parties spoke of each other more contemptuously 
than they commonly did of others outside of their communion. 
The fullest liberty of utterance was guaranteed the editors of 
the new Independent by the backers. It had no particular pro- 
gramme other than to be a voice for righteousness as it should 
be discerned, but it sympathised with the characteristic theology 
of New England and yet was solicitous to make its churches 
more attractive. So far as I know the only point of positive 
disagreement among the editors was on the spelling of the word 
" centre." We expected attacks as a matter of course. They 
came in abundance from the pronounced old-school papers, the 
Puritan of Boston, and a monthly called the Observatory ; and 
also from the pro-slavery papers; and from representatives of 
religious and philanthropic societies whose financial or other 
reports we had now and then sharply to criticise. Attacks came 
from many other quarters and from those we had counted as 
probable friends. I have no doubt we often retorted with in- 
considerate speech in a tone sadly wanting in the lovely grace 
of Christian meekness. But we kept our heads and it came 
gradually to be recognised that the paper could not be beaten 
down or sneered down. Meanwhile we had a large number of 
active friends. Some things now generally accepted were, I 
think, aided by the paper; and it contributed importantly to 
securing to fresh thinkers, within the distinct evangelical lines, 
liberty in thought and expression. The tone of the paper con- 
tributed to eliminate inert and noxious elements from the gen- 
eral religious journalism of the day. It was not perfunctory 
and it was free from cant. 

On one point Dr. Storr feels many regrets — that they 
did not minister more constantly to the spiritual life of 
their readers. " The necessary treatment of great semi- 
secular themes and the controversial attitude into which 
we were forced prevented us. There was more ground 
than there ought to have been in the caustic criticism of 
an adversary that the Independent was a strong paper and 
might in time become a useful one if it should ever get 
religion." The secularity of the Independent was natur- 
ally the subject of much bitter attack on the part of 
religious papers which devoted their articles exclusively 
to theological and religious matters. And the innova- 
tion was looked upon with disapproval by many secular 
papers which, possibly not entirely without a fear of 
the formidable rivalry which such a paper might exert, 


deprecated that an intentionally religious journal should 
afford so much week-day reading. To the Nation it 
seemed that the Independent was unduly controversial 
also. Godkin wrote to it in 1868 : " We have endeav- 
oured and successfully endeavoured, in the interest of 
reason as well as of decency, to make discussion im- 
personal. If I were to make your birth or education a 
means of exciting either a prejudice against you per- 
sonally or of weakening the effect of your arguments, I 
should consider myself a very base and malignant per- 
son. It seems to me that you should be amongst the 
last to encourage a tendency which is the curse of the 
press in this country." The Round Table, too, kept re- 
ferring to another manifestation of worldly spirit on the 
part of the Independent, in which it deemed that in com- 
mon with all the children of light this journal showed 
itself cannier than the children frankly of this world. 

We have never discovered that liberal advertising does not 
quite as uniformly secure their favourable editorial judgment 
of books or of inventions as that of the more worldly journals. 
In fact, the veritable puff abounds much more frequently in 
their columns than in the first class dailies. A single illustra- 
tion will suffice. Some years ago a book was published in this 
city called Hot Corn; Life Scenes in New York. A secular 
paper of this city pubHshed a most indignant and scathing 
article against it. Another followed, denouncing it as a vicious 
and obscene book. The publisher got out an immense adver- 
tisement embodying unqualified commendation from some ten 
or twelve of our religious journals. Some of the same religious 
papers which had praised it then made public recantation. 
Perhaps this was an uncommonly flagrant case. But in nearly 
every issue of our religious contemporaries may be found 
unduly indulgent criticism favouring the interests of adver- 

The standards of the Round Table were unquestionably 
almost impossibly idealistic. It was imbued with all the 
elegant New England tradition of letters and of the ex- 
clusive function of high-class journalism. Many clergy- 
men habitually contributed to the Round Table, and it was 
possibly owing to their influence working in connection 


with its own ideals that the paper was continuous in its 
condemnation of the secularity of the Independent. 
" Both the Observer and the Independent/' it said, " ex- 
hibit a shameless perversion of religious journalism, and 
the secular and avaricious schemes of the latter are par- 
ticularly unblushing. Thirty-two flaring columns of ad- 
vertisements, sixteen columns of articles and items on 
everything from politics to sewing machines, yet it an- 
swers an inquiry from a subscriber as to what constitutes 
a religious paper by referring to itself as an example. 
Whole columns of filthy advertisements, overflowing with 
puffs and politics, war-news and business, the Cherokee 
Remedy, Constitution Water, and a clergyman's puff 
of Bronchial Trochees! We protest against this degra- 
dation and pernicious influence for personal profit." 
The issue of June 30, 1864, had, for instance — out of 
the whole number of forty-eight columns — twenty-six 
columns of advertisements, eleven columns of war, poli- 
tics, finance, one column of market reports, two columns 
of religious news, five columns of Mr. Beecher's sermon, 
three columns of religious articles; and there were no 
religious editorials. " Putting the most secular of 
papers ! " cried the scandalised Round Table, " into the 
hands of Sabbath readers under the guise of religion." 

Happily, there is no longer any such thing as Sabbath 
reading. But in the days when discussion waxed high 
over this vital subject, thinkers on both sides revealed 
curious inconsistencies. The Sunday edition of the 
newspaper, we are told, came during the Civil War in 
response to the demand of people not be left one day 
in the week without news at a time when important hap- 
penings, being no respecter of man's sanctities, were just 
as liable to occur on Sunday as any other day. The 
Round Table in spite of its advanced notions on many 
topics, entertained ideas just as illogical as any when it 
took its broad stand on the fundamental verities of the 
question. On December 23, 1865, it had the following 
editorial on the innovation — in a city where up to 1830 


churches even had the privilege of hanging chains across 
the street to stop all Sunday travel. 

The publisher of the Philadelphia Press has recently issued 
a Sunday edition and announces his intention of keeping it up 
as long as it will pay. This course has evoked much local com- 
ment and even a formal remonstrance from the Methodist 
clergy. We have a few words to say to both parties. The ar- 
guments frequently urged in favour of Sunday issues are not 
arguments at all. The whole question resolves itself to this: 
is it morally right? To our minds there is neither right nor 
reason in it, but the responsibility rests with the public. But 
were religious papers what they should be, the Sunday issues 
would be less frequent than they are now. As a class they are 
unpardonably stupid. The secular newspaper that would be 
managed as slovenly, as poorly, as unattractively, would die in 
less than a week. There is little difference between a Sunday 
issue and a religious weekly except that the latter is more unin- 
teresting. The Independent is not so stupid as the Observer, 
but a religious article in its columns is an accident. 

How long ago it seems since the running of street cars 
on the Sabbath was violently protested by many clergy- 
men who had come to their pulpits in their own carriages ! 
Doubtless we ourselves, advanced thinkers as we are, 
would be quite unaware of some equally laughable in- 
consistency, were we not told them by radicals who dwell 
now beyond the frontier of public sanction. Dr. Bush- 
nell's nice discriminations as to the exact moment in the 
study of law or medicine when a woman unsexed herself 
were as hotly derided by the suffragists who bounded 
him on the north as by the orthodox theologians who 
bounded him on the south. And while Dr. Bushnell was 
saying that a certain religious paper was not only behind 
the times but behind all times, he was being threatened 
with trial for heresy by the New York Evangelist and 
by the Princeton Review, which was busily proclaiming 
that the theory of evolution must not be permitted to 
creep into intellectual thought because it meant atheism. 
The recurring painful effort to adjust new ideas to old 
beliefs, however untenable the conclusions to which 
straining thinkers may be reduced, commands respect. 


Dr. Hodges' struggles to get around the doctrine of evo- 
lution are far more worthy of admiration than his at- 
tacks upon Dr. Bushnell; Dr. Bushnell's struggles to 
blind himself to his own conclusions in his Reform 
Against Nature have a quality of bigness about them 
when one considers how large the authority of St. Paul 
bulked in all Christian minds ; and humour is mixed with 
admiration at his independence in declaring that women 
have a right to make advances toward marriage and to 
make their own living, but though they may study law 
they may not speak in court and though they may practise 
medicine nature itself forbids them to practise surgery. 
Much in the attitude of the religious papers in America, 
however, merits the indignation and contempt inspired 
by a British religious weekly, when it announced that the 
accident which occurred at the launching of the Great 
Eastern was a direct manifestation of divine wrath on 
account of the change of the name of the ship to Levia- 
than, " which with all deep theologians is a scriptural 
synonym for the Devil." One expects difficulty in the 
eternal human quandary of decanting new ferments into 
old bottles ; but the attempt, not yet abandoned, to justify 
the ways of God to man is as blasphemous as it is puerile. 
The rancour of religious zeal has always been a conspicu- 
ous and interesting phenomenon. Holmes told Motley 
that for three years he had suffered revilings from the 
evangelical press because he had opinions of his own. 
It detected atheism in Dr. Holland and libertinism in 
Stedman; and Stedman wrote Holmes in 1890: " I find 
myself reflecting on the change of moral temperature * in 
these parts ' since the Guardian Angel made all the cleri- 
cal cats arch their backs and spread their fur." Lowell, 
when editor of the Atlantic wrote to Higginson about 
a proposed change in the latter's copy. " I hke your 
article (Ought Women to learn the Alphabet) so much 
that it is already in press as leader for the next num- 
ber. You misunderstand me. I want no change except 
the insertion of a qualifying ' perhaps,' where you speak 


of the natural equality of the sexes; and that as much on 
your own account as mine — because I think it is not 
yet demonstrated. Even in this, if you prefer it, leave 
it your own way. I only look upon my duty as a vicari- 
ous one for Phillips and Sampson, that nothing may go 
in (before we are firm on our feet) that helps the * re- 
ligious ' press in their warfare on us. Presently we 
shall be even with them, and have a free magazine in 
its true sense." 

When Lowell thought of the truckling tactics of the 
majority of the religious papers on the question of slavery 
and the decidedly dubious business dealings of many re- 
ligious organisations of the period, and compared it 
with his own behaviour, he might well have been par- 
doned a disdainful smile. While they were polHng their 
subscribers up to the last minute before venturing to 
declare themselves, he had, without a backward look, 
greatly curtailed his market in coming out against Slav- 
ery. Nor could Lowell be called in any sense of the 
word a war-horse abolitionist to whom nothing else mat- 
tered. He had written to Briggs on the Broadway 
Journal in 1845 : " I do not wish to see the Journal a 
partisan. I think it would do more good by always 
speaking of certain reforms and the vileness of certain 
portions of our present civilisation as matters of course 
than by attacking them fiercely and individually. I as- 
sure you that (minister's son and conservative's son as 
I am) I do not occupy my present position without pain." 

When three years after he left the Independent, 
Beecher became editor of the Christian Union, he sig- 
nalised his advent by an unheard of dictation, says Dr. 
Abbott. He demanded that a paper which preached 
religion should practise it. " He shut down once and 
for all," says John Howard, his publisher, " upon a large 
class of profitable business, in excluding medical adver- 
tisements and in ordering a strict censorship upon what- 
ever might offend the taste or impose upon the credulity 
of readers." " Those who remember the class of adver- 


tising on which religious journals of that period, with few 
exceptions, largely depended, will perhaps realise what 
so radical an action involved in this starting of a new 
journal," continues Dr. Abbott. It is not apparent 
whether Beecher had attempted the same stand with his 
former publisher Bowen, but if he had, he failed. The 
Round Table kept on attacking the Independent for the 
nature of its advertising. "The vilest of the vile ad- 
vertisements, which we know secular papers to have 
refused over and over again, defile its pages. Here the 
young woman can learn how to ward off the troubles 
of misconduct, and the young man how to counteract the 
effects of dissipation. And this almost side by side with 
Mr. Beechers' sermons ! " Religious periodicals had 
seemingly gone on the working theory that it was better 
to have a temple disfigured with money-changers than no 
temple at all. The point is, on the whole, hardly dispu- 
table, but it certainly calls for constant discretion in 
drawing the line. The religious periodicals were for a 
long time one of the last stands of the objectionable 
advertiser. When the Round Table resumed publication 
in 1865, it resumed also its war against indecent adver- 
tising, and said very frankly that the religious weeklies 
had largely cleared themselves of this stain. But since 
its discontinuance it had been amazed to see that the 
taint of indecent advertising had now begun to appear in 
the most moral dailies, claiming to be respectable and 
edited by respectable men. On the front page of both 
Times and Tribune were as disreputable advertisements 
as had ever entered decent homes. Consequently, in 
1869 when Beecher became editor of the Christian Union, 
the weekly was doing only what secular papers of the 
first class were doing, and must have been more sure of 
the justification of its position than the Independent of 
some years before — if the accusation of the Round 
Table is correct, that it was admitting advertisements 
which would not be published in the best secular sheets. 
Yet Beecher accomplished with Howard what was not 



accomplished with Bowen, and that when the paper was 
just struggHng into existence. 

" Dr. Bowen," wrote Theodore Cuyler, " was a man 
who never yielded in any matter that he undertook, great 
or small." But if Mr. G. P. Rowell is to be believed, a 
story he relates in Fifty Years an Advertising Agent, 
shows that this doughty warrior came a cropper at last. 
The Independent from its early days, says Mr. Rowell, 
carried more advertising and at a higher price than all 
the other religious papers of New York. It was in 1869 
that Mr. Rowell started the first Directory, the indis- 
pensability of which and its stimulus to advertisers were 
almost immediately recognised. " Publishers of high 
character owning papers of high character that appeal 
to an exclusive constituency are given to being super- 
sensitive on the subject of circulation. The only time 
I can recollect having a circulation report from Mr. H. C. 
Bowen, long owner and publisher of that superlatively 
excellent and exceptionally successful religious paper, 
the Independent, he sent a man to me with a piece of 
white paper about half as large as a postal card upon 
which was written in pencil the figures 67,000; and the 
man said that Mr. Bowen said that that was the circula- 
tion of his paper and that he sent it to me in reply to my 
application for a statement upon which a circulation 
rating might be based. It is quite possible I ought to 
have accepted the pencil slip with confidence; but if I 
had, I feel certain the reputation of the Directory would 
fall something short of that it has to-day. In after 
years, Mr. Bowen once sent for me and expressed an 
ardent desire to be freed from the annoyance of being 
called upon annually for a circulation statement, and 
wished to learn if there did not exist some method 
whereby he might escape an affliction that had become 
distasteful to him to a degree he could hardly express." 

The religious papers about i860, says Mr. Rowell, 
were of vastly more importance than they are now. The 
prominent New York ones were the Observer, Evangelist, 



Examiner, Christian Advocate, and Independent; in 
Boston there were Zion's Herald, Watchman and Re- 
flector, Congregationalist. To these papers the Round 
Table paid its respects in 1864. From them it may be 
gathered that the Round Table, at least, thought that the 
vitaHty of the reHgious Dress depended upon controversy. 

Not many years ago the House of Bishops of the Protestant 
Episcopal Church issued a pastoral letter specially rebuking 
the contentious and mischievous spirit of the religious press 
of their church. The General Association of Connecticut 
made up of Congregational ministers at one of its annual 
sessions unanimously passed censure upon the too-common as- 
perity of religious newspapers, especially in the matter of a 
controversy. Most of the religious journals of all denomina- 
tions had truly exposed themselves to such reproofs. Their 
addictions to controversy and the bad spirit with which they 
conducted it became a positive scandal to the Christian name. 
Their general influence instead of being what it ought to 
have been, particularly liberalising, elevating and refining, was 
particularly narrowing, embittering and vulgarising. The re- 
ligious press no longer exhibits that fondness for strife, but 
strange to say, this relinquishment of controversy has debili- 
tated them most pitifully. No discerning man who looks upon 
them can fail to be struck at their want of both moral and 
intellectual force. Here and there is an exception, but weak- 
ness is now the prime characteristic of our religious journals 
in both city and country. Their positive faults it would be 
still easier to indicate. They are generally of the same kind as 
attach to the secular press, nor do they vary very much in 
degree — they puff their patrons and admit questionable ad- 

Yet the decrease in the acrimonious tone of controversy 
which the Round Table noted was only relative. Re- 
ligious discords reached their climax between the years 
1840 and i860, it is true, but it continued long after that, 
and finally was to wane not so much on account of an 
inward change of heart (in spite of prominent leaders 
who pled for it) as from outward conditions. There 
was enough left in 1872 to sadden the Christian Union 
with what appeared to it to be the striking characteristic 
of church papers. "As we look over the huge pile of 
religious exchanges in our office, we are struck with 


some general facts as to the spirit of various church 
bodies. To one who is sincerely looking in every quarter 
for some ground of sympathy their perpetual war-whoop 
is discouraging. The Roman Catholics deal out to all 
their fellow Christians red-hot shot, vitriol and cayenne 
pepper. The many newspapers of the great Methodist 
Church, though they express for the most part only 
friendship for other Christian bodies, are always throw- 
ing a stone at Rome. The Episcopalians recognise as 
little kinship with the other sects as do the Catholics, and 
assume axiomatic principles unacceptable and unfamiliar 
to the religious community at large." 

But two years old was the Christian Union at the time 
of this editorial. It was in January, 1870, that Beecher 
took the editorship of an impecunious weekly called the 
Church Union. This was begun under the policy which 
its name signified — of securing the organic unity of all 
Protestant Evangelical churches. Beecher said that he 
insisted on the change of name because he wanted to be 
as free from sectarian bias as the Sermon on the Mount. 
" We distinguish between oneness of Church and oneness 
of Christian sympathy," he wrote in his opening an- 
nouncement. " Not only shall we not labour for an ex- 
ternal and ecclesiastical unity but we should regard it as 
a step backward. The Christian Union will devote no 
time to inveighing again sects, but will spare no pains to 
persuade Christians of every sect to treat one another with 
Christian charity, love and sympathy." Perhaps nothing 
could better illustrate the spirit of religious journalism 
than the attacks which the paper received for this sweet 
and temperate doctrine. Church papers everywhere as- 
sailed him. It was, to be sure, an entire innovation ; but 
the suspicion entertained by conservative minds for every- 
thing novel is not sufficient to excuse their virulent opposi- 
tion. However the members of church communities may 
have regarded Beecher's announced intention " to seek 
to interpret the Bible rather as a religion of life than a 
book of doctrine," church journals seemed to have scented 


that their existence was threatened by the newcomerj 
If people of every creed found the Christian Union at- 
tractive reading, they might in time cease to consider itj 
a duty to subscribe to the organ of their own creed. 
Thus, for the first time in the history of rehgious journal- 
ism, all the denominational journals found themselves 
united in a common cause against a common enemy. 
That their unspoken fear had a substantial basis was 
demonstrated before the quarter-century had ended. 
The decrease of denominational rivalries began in fact to 
undermine the denominational press. When in addition 
to the great success of an undenominational religious 
journal arose within the churches social institutions 
which continued the work of Beecher in emphasising a 
common religious sentiment rather than a difference of 
doctrine, the decline of the denominational press became 
more rapid. The Young Men's Christian Association, 
the Christian Endeavour, and the Sunday School Con- 
vention greatly widened the influence which Beecher had 
begun. The denominational journals had been right in 
their fear that if people began to slacken their church 
ties by taking in an undenominational religious paper, 
they might end in regarding the church more as a social 
than a religious institution. 

But to return to the Christian Union, which teaching 
Christian love found itself the universal object of Chris- 
tian hatred. Dr. Lyman Abbott has paid a glorious 
tribute to it in his life of its editor: 

In a discussion which arose over the addition of a Farm and 
Garden Department, he said : " It is the aim of the Christian 
Union to gospelise all the industrial functions of life." Never 
in the five years in which we were associated do I recall a single 
instance in which he manifested an acerb or irritated spirit, a 
desire to hit back, a wish to get even with an antagonist, or 
even an ambition for a victory over him. He would not allow 
the journal to be used in his own personal defence. I think 
now, as I thought then, that he carried this principle too far. 
The journal suffered from the silence he imposed upon it dur- 
ing the time in which he was subjected to vituperation and 
abuse. The phenomenal success into which the Christian Union 


leaped from its birth, was due to him; and due also to the 
support of his associate, George Merriam, and the energy and 
sagacity of the publishers." 

In 1 88 1 he sold his interest and retired. He had come 
to feel, says Dr. Abbott, that his name must be removed 
as editor since he furnished almost nothing to the paper. 
When it changed its name for the second time, it gave 
us a retrospect. " In 1869 ^ feeble journal bearing the 
name of Church Union was maintaining a struggling 
existence. Now a quarter of a century later, denomina- 
tions still exist but denominational sermons are increas- 
ingly rare. Polemical theory is banished from the pulpit, 
where it once reigned supreme, to the ecclesiastical court 
room. The name Christian Union has identified the 
paper with the religious press, and as this is with a few 
exceptions denominational, even its other religious con- 
temporaries fell into the error of imagining it to be the 
organ of a denomination. There are in the country 
more than one hundred weekly journals which bear the 
title * Christian.' These considerations and the practical 
results of these circumstances have compelled for some 
years the consideration of a change of name. The title 
of this department, which has always occupied the first 
and most prominent place in the paper and which in some 
sense characterises the attitude of the paper, naturally 
suggested an alternative." The sub-title of the Chris- 
tian Union had been " Undenominational, Evangelical, 
Protestant, Christian " : the Outlook announced itself as 
a weekly Family newspaper, a running history of the 
year. The department of the Religious World, it said, 
would be but a feature, and its main attempt would be 
but to trace and record the religious activities of the 
times, though it would print a weekly sermon and weekly 
comments on the Sunday School Lesson. 

But even before the Independent had let down the bars 
to the worldliness which is symbolised finally by a re- 
ligious paper's classification of itself as merely a Family 
newspaper, the religious press even of the more rigidly 


denominational type, had sedulously been offering literary 
fare which tended to decrease any sharp distinction be- 
tween sectarian and secular journalism. One is struck 
by the abundant mention in letters and lives of our liter- 
ary men of their connection with the religious press and 
how greatly it contributed, though in small doles, to the 
support of literature at a time when bread was scarce. 
Many of the religious weeklies had their New York and 
Washington correspondents. Gail Hamilton wrote in 
i860 of the Congregationalist to which she had been 
sending Washington letters for two years : " They will 
give me a salary of $400 to $600 a year for work which 
will take only about a day or a day and a half a week." 
In answer to one of her first literary ventures, the Inde- 
pendent had written : " You shall be paid at the rate of 
$3 a column — when we know who you are. For, my 
dear Mrs. Gail or Girl, we don't pay nobody's, we don't. 
If you will let me into the secret of your name, I will be 
very whist about it and send your money promptly." In 
i860 Mrs. Kinney wrote from Florence to her son, 
Stedman, " The Independent has offered Mrs. Browning 
a hundred dollars for any original scrap of her poetry; " 
and Stedman notes in 1869 that Bowen paid him one 
hundred dollars for " some trash called The House That 
Vanderbilt " and had asked him to write twelve more 
poems at the same price. In the late '6o's the Inde- 
pendent made Justin McCarthy its literary editor while 
he was in this country; and the rising fame of Sidney 
Lanier owed much to this paper's fostering. In 1888 
Maurice Thompson became its literary editor. When 
the Christian Union started, Mrs. Stowe was naturally 
very desirous for the success of her brother's venture and 
pledged her literary support. " I see," she wrote Mr. 
Howard, " you have advertised a serial story from me 
as one of the attractions of the year to come, and I ought 
therefore to be thinking what to write. A story ought 
to grow out of one's heart like a flower, not to be meas- 


ured off by the yard. To have eyes fixed on me and 
people all waiting!" Later she wrote him: "I am 
very much gratified with the success of My Wife and I. 
I get a great many more letters about it than I re- 
ceived about anything except Uncle Tom. When you 
advertise again, there is no harm in saying how many 
you have sold. I like people to know it for many 
reasons." In 1877 Gail Hamilton wrote briskly to the 
managing editor of the Alliance: "The only reason I 
cannot form an alliance offensive and defensive with 
you, is because you are poor, and I am a saint and a 
martyr to the one fixed principle, never to write except 
for the highest price. I know nothing of your finances 
except what may be inferred from the nature of things, 
but a religious and radical and new newspaper, it stands 
to reason cannot be rich. When your ship comes home 
from sea, oh, whistle and I'm come to you, my lad ! But 
so long as you cultivate literature on a Httle oatmeal, 
bless you my children, bless you, but leave me my fatted 
calf!" Lest Gail be thought too mercenary, let it be 
added quickly that she was earning her own living and 
that of others by her pen, and as she wrote all her let- 
ters " between hunting for the soap and the scissors, 
and treated every principle of politics while going from 
the baker at the end gate to the plumber at the back 
door," time for scribbling was limited; and too many 
religious weeklies were like the paper of which she puts 
down this note in 1881 : " Wanted me to write 
Thoughts On Mother's Death, or Mother's Grave, or 
Mother's House in Heaven, for a book; should receive 
a copy of book in payment ! " And lest the Alliance 
itself be sympathised with for its poverty, let it be added 
that it sneered at Stedman as one who had voluntarily 
tried to unite the services of God and Mammon — be- 
cause, unable to support himself by poetry and refusing 
to become a newspaper drudge, he had gone into Wall 
Street. Yet the " broker-poet " had refused to write 


eleven more poems at one hundred dollars each like the 
House That Vanderbilt, for the Independent — he said 
he could not afford to write such trash. 

Thus the religious press itself in its literary department 
had contributed to breaking down the bulwark between 
sacred and secular reading which seems to have chiefly 
kept it from the flood that finally swept away its authority 
and prestige. The New York Observer at one time 
frankly divided itself into two sections, for Sunday and 
for week-day perusal. One of the earliest religious 
weeklies went further, and asked its subscribers not to 
read it on Sunday at all. But as such nice distinctions 
ceased to be insisted upon and the religious press dallied 
more and more with the affairs of the world, a similar 
tendency began to be exhibited by the secular press. Just 
as the one was extending the week-day into Sunday, the 
other was coming to extend Sunday into the week-day. 
Far more matters once considered distinctively religious 
began to appear in the newspapers — discussions of 
church affairs and religious events — until nowadays 
dailies thought by some anxious conservatives to be other- 
worldly in an opposite sense from the ancient religious 
organs, publish sermons and have editorial departments 
conducted by clergymen. The encroachment of the 
newspaper is particularly felt, writes Rev. William Ells- 
worth Strong, in the once very successful missionary 
periodical. " In the beginning the missionary magazine 
reflected as nowhere else the romance of far-off lands 
and the life of strange peoples; to-day it competes with 
the Associated Press and the kodak of every traveller. 
Missionary news and scenes now make good copy for 
daily and weekly, just as popular monthlies and scien- 
tific reviews often include more strictly religious articles." 

Mr. Hamilton Mabie says that there was once a Bos- 
ton religious weekly so eager to keep up with the times 
that it changed its name from the Fireside Companion to 
the Christian Register. But the case (if it ever existed, 
since as early as 1821 — before furnaces came in — the 


Register was turned on) was by no means representa- 
tive. Religious papers have been noticeably not only 
behind the times of the rest of the world but behind their 
own times. This constant phenomenon, Dr. W. H. Ward 
noted in 1891 in The Religious Paper and the Ministry. 
The editor being generally a minister, he says, is likely 
to edit for ministers rather than for laymen. " The 
serious danger is his setting up as dictator. Generally, 
too, it is edited by rather old men who are in serious 
danger of being behind the thinking of their age. The 
religious papers were almost unanimously against toler- 
ance even up to the time when the ministry was ready to 
decide in favour of liberty of views and of teaching. Lay 
representatives among the Methodists could not find ex- 
pression in the Methodist papers and had to establish new 
papers through which it could speak, just as fifty years 
before New School Presbyterianism had to create a new 
press for itself. Now the Presbyterian papers are far 
behind the seminaries and the ministry in accepting the 
general results of the Higher Criticism." 

For these reasons internal and external, then, the sig- 
nificance of the religious press in America has greatly 
diminished. Within came the gradual cessation, through 
the development of social institutions in common, of the 
vigour that unhappily enough seems to have been de- 
pendent upon sectarian strife; but this latter manifesta- 
tion of progress was accompanied by a dogged determina- 
tion to be the last to throw the old forms aside. To this 
must be added the tendency to develop specialised maga- 
zines of theology by the various schools, says Dr. Ward ; 
these have to a great extent absorbed the determinedly 
denominational reader. Many more of these exist now 
than when the religious weekly was so formidable a 
rival. With the decline of the religious weekly came the 
growth of the religious magazine which, however, makes 
little bid for general support and is more and more en- 
dowed. Mr. Bryce could no longer write in his Ameri- 
can Commonwealth as in 1888 that the religious weekly 


remained a force of immense influence in the life of the 
nation and was quite unparalleled in Europe. Instead, 
he would note the fact that the two most famous week- 
lies, the Independent and the Outlook, have quite sub- 
ordinated their religious features in order to survive; 
and that many others which once had authority and 
prosperity, having still retained their religious depart- 
ments as their chief feature, seem moribund. 

In 1897 the advertising agency of George Batten and 
Company announced to its advertisers the eight repre- 
sentative religious papers of the United States to be the 
Christian Advocate (Methodist), the Churchman (Prot- 
estant Episcopal), the Congregationalist, the Evangelist 
(Presbyterian), the Examiner (Baptist), the Independ- 
ent (Undenominational), the New York Observer, 
(Presbyterian), the Outlook (Undenominational). All 
of these papers have been long-lived though some have 
seen many vicissitudes. With the exception of the 
Outlook and the Independent and the Churchman they 
date around the first quarter-century mark. Besides 
these, there were 1,187 religious papers, of which 569 
are weeklies, 6 semi-weeklies, i thrice a month, and 2 
dailies. Of the magazine type there were 438 monthlies, 
71 semi-monthlies, and 8 bi-monthlies, and 91 quarterlies, 
chiefly Sunday School publications. Thus apparently, 
though the authority and prestige of the palmy days of 
religious journalism have departed, never to return since 
the cessation of distinctively Sunday reading and the en- 
croachment upon its domain of secular journals, there 
was plenty of life left at the end of the century even if 
its manifestation had ceased to be of national importance. 



New York had no sooner knocked into a cocked hat the 
Philadelphia brag of the greatest circulation than another 
heady project for silencing her ancient rival occurred to 
her. The war, which threatened the security even of 
Harper's, kept it in cold storage for a decade, but age 
did not wither it. Philadelphia had been able to keep 
going at once several magazines of the same rank; the 
metropolis could never demonstrate her literary suprem- 
acy until she did the same. The jeers of her sisters were 
at last beginning to penetrate. New York — they said 
loftily, hugging their Hobson's choice — may publish 
literature but she does not read it; better a dinner of 
herbs where love is than a stalled ox which is eaten only 
by your neighbours. The only appropriate retort was 
not for the moment forthcoming and must be relegated 
to the misty future. But in the meantime why not de- 
molish Philadelphia's sole remaining brag? 

New York's one great magazine still left some con- 
spicuous fields of activity untouched. Family circles 
had been known to take in more than one magazine even 
in the old days when magazines were all about the same. 
Perhaps there might be room, even at some of the fire- 
sides pre-empted by Harper's, for a periodical with dif- 
ferent aims — more national certainly, and perhaps less 
preoccupied with finding a common denominator. So 
thought Charles Scribner, head of a New York publishing 
house, and so thought the man who became his editor. 
In two items, they agreed, lay their best chance — finer 
illustrations and native writers. For the rest they would 
feel their way. And Scribner's was brought forth. 



The feature of illustrations, ran the editorial announce- 
ment in the first number, has been adopted to meet a 
thoroughly pronounced popular demand. In the last 
number before it became the Century there was another 
editorial announcement. " Its superb engravings and 
the era it introduced of improved illustrative art, have 
been the chief factor in its success. This feature is 
attributable to Mr. R. W. Gilder and Mr. A. W. Drake. 
The effects achieved excited great curiosity both in this 
country and in England. Mr. Smith may legitimately 
claim to have revolutionised the cut-printing of the world. 
It took a lawyer turned business man to discover that 
damp paper is not the best for printing cuts on." In 
those eleven years they had heard the intellectual protest 
against " picture-books " grow small by degrees and 
beautifully less, until save for a few stalwart souls it 
had ceased altogether to spell that fatty degeneration of 
culture once so profoundly feared by those who grudged 
that others should be carried to the skies on flowery beds 
of ease. One might almost forget that such ideas were 
ever entertained by sensible people did we not in our own 
day behold austere persons raise the same objection to 
their children acquiring knowledge easily (and more 
lastingly) by means of the "movies." The revolution 
which Scribner's effected, like every other successful one, 
owed much to its coming at the right moment. 

It was the good fortune of the magazine to be born with the 
rise of a new school of American art, and it has probably never 
happened to any periodical to hold a relation so intimate with 
the arts of design or to be a means of diffusing correct judg- 
ments and principles. When it was founded eleven years ago, 
the art of wood-engraving was almost stationary. The illus- 
trated periodicals were hardly better than they had been for 
twenty years. A dozen years ago, one of the leading engravers 
declared there was not an illustrator on wood in New York 
who could draw the human figure correctly. It was manifestly 
impossible to make a really great illustrated magazine under 
such conditions. Scribner's, therefore, had recourse to a method 
already in use for certain purposes — that of photographing on 
wood. This was not then considered the correct way to obtain 


an artistic picture. By degrees, the change was wrought, and 
the individuality of painter and designer retained. Protests 
were many — the pictures were positively ugly, it was alleged; 
but by degrees people came to prefer their real beauty to the 
old conventional properness. Never before by means of any 
art or device had the excellence of a great picture been carried 
by multiplied copies. In a country like ours, where galleries 
are few and worthy paintings rarely to be seen out of the great 
cities, the educational service of such art-work as Scribner's 
is incalculable. The London Standard said of the Portfolio of 
Proof Impressions from Scribner's : " It is impossible for an 
Englishman to look through this collection of engravings with- 
out a deep feeling of humiliation. The wood-engraving stands 
now at the head of all methods of reproduction. A dozen years 
ago steel prints were thought to be the chief means. To have 
attained this is to work an ultimate revolution in the world's 

In June, 1881, Dr. Holland wrote a retrospect for his 
magazine just undergoing its second baptism. Mr. 
Charles Scribner had applied to him thirteen years before 
to take the editorship of Hours at Home, a periodical 
the publisher had started some years earlier. Holland, 
however, believed it to be moribund. Happening some- 
time later to meet Mr. Roswell Smith in Europe, he spoke 
of the offer and said he would be glad of the opportunity 
to undertake a new one of his own. Mr. Smith, who 
appears never to have considered the subject before, re- 
plied that he would like to manage the business end of 
such an enterprise. Together the two went to Scribner 
and unfolded the project, and they found him favourably 

Naturally it was his wish to have the new magazine ernanate 
from his book-house. I refused, however, to have anything to 
do with a magazine that should be floated as the flag of a book- 
house, or as a tributary or subordinate to a book-house. It was 
agreed that a new concern should be formed. Mr. Smith had 
no knowledge whatever of the publishing business, and I had 
none save that which I had acquired in the publication of a 
country newspaper, with the details of which, however, I had 
little to do. It was deemed desirable by Mr. Scribner that the 
magazine should bear the name of the book-house. I was glad 
to have the prestige of the name, he was glad to have the adver- 


tising which the new magazine would thus give. But in an- 
other respect it was not a selfish matter at all. Through long 
years of the most brotherly intercourse I had come into very 
affectionate relations with Mr. Scribner. But we — the two 
parties — regarded the enterprise and operations of the maga- 
zine house from radically different standpoints. We, the ma- 
jority interest, had no interest whatever in the book-house; we 
were organised to do our own business and neither to do nor to 
mind any other man's. We felt that if we should desire to pub- 
lish a book, we ought not to be called upon to consider whether 
we were affecting the business of any other concern whatsoever. 
This difference was the inspiring cause of all the recent changes 
that have taken place in the proprietorship of the concern. 

If Charles Scribner relinquished his pet project, to 
have a magazine of his own in the same way that the 
Harper firm had one of its own, it was because he was 
confident that Dr. Holland was worth the price he un- 
accountably exacted. Scribner knew more than anybody 
else but Bowles of the Springfield Republican how much 
Holland was worth to him as an editor. Holland had 
gone on Bowles' paper as assistant in 1847 for a salary 
of $480, which was increased the next year to $700. The 
Letters he wrote for the paper were so popular that 
the subscription responded at once. But in spite of their 
history and of a didactic home-spun quality as dear to 
the heart as to the head of the American publisher of the 
period, Holland was unable to find a publisher until 
Scribner consented to hear them. Their success at once 
showed Scribner that their author had gauged rightly 
the widest audience in the country — the practical intelli- 
gent people who wanted to better themselves. The New 
York Evening Post said at his death that no literary man 
in America was so accurately fitted for the precise work 
of developing a great popular magazine. He had the 
immense advantage of keeping on a plane of thought 
just above that of a vast multitude of readers, each one 
of whom he could touch with his hand and raise a little 
upward. " No other man in this country," said Robert 
Collyer, " could have built up Scrihner's as he did, mak- 
ing it fill a place uniquely adapted to the great mass of 


the American people." This was his ideal — to speak 
to the heart and mind of the average man. His proudest 
title was " The Great Apostle to the Multitude of Intelli- 
gent Americans who have Missed a College Education." 
To them he preached constantly, and in the most neigh- 
bourly of fashions. One of his great texts was tem- 
perance, but he had no intention of remaining the stock 
moralist which so long contented his more prudent rival, 
Harper's. Not only did he criticise severely the political 
and social abuses of his time — still a preposterous rash- 
ness for a popular magazine ; but, bolder still, he did not 
care how many sects squinted at his theology. That we 
fail to extract any heretical doctrines from the whole- 
some but somewhat stodgy Bitter Sweet to-day, does 
not subtract from the audacity of an editor who dared 
to risk subscriptions by publishing the poem in a day 
when he knew it would poke up the pulpits. He knew 
how to feed the virtuous and yet give them cakes and ale 
also — a born editor. This Charles Scribner seems to 
have divined from the start, when he allowed a man to 
step from a subordinate position on a small city news- 
paper into his office and dictate the terms on which he 
would assume control of an old publisher's new maga- 
zine. " I risked in the business," wrote Holland after- 
ward, " all the money and all the reputation I had made, 
and it is a great satisfaction that I did not miscalculate 
the resources of my business associate or my own. Al- 
though the Monthly started without a subscriber it never 
printed or sold less than forty thousand copies a month. 
The highest task we set ourselves was to reach one 
hundred thousand, now we are looking forward to one 
hundred and fifty. That two men utterly unused to 
the business should succeed from the first in so difficult 
a field is, in retrospect, a surprise to themselves." 

These two men, though of a progressive cast, were on 
account of their inexperience the more desirous to make 
haste slowly. A magazine, too, which had absorbed 
Hours at Home and Putnam's at the very outset natu- 


rally owed something to its digestion. Putnam's, as we 
have seen, prided itself on possessing opinions; and the 
Riverside Magazine, which was the next candidate for 
assimilation, was a juvenile which prided itself on form- 
ing them. In five years another set of readers inured to 
catholic discussion of ideas came in a body to swell the 
subscription list. This flock had been shepherded by 
Edward Everett Hale in Old and New, a magazine begun 
under the auspices of the Unitarian Association, with 
an idea then quite radical even for so unorthodox a 
creed. " We took the ground," says he, " that literature 
and politics and theology and religion might be discussed 
within the same covers and read by the same readers. If 
you please to take the language of the trade, we believed 
that the stories and the poems in our journal could float 
the theology and the religion. In eleven volumes I 
edited the journal. At the end of that time we had more 
than one competitor in the same path; especially Scrih- 
ner's. The Unitarian Association had long since tired 
of us; for it was impossible to make the directors of a 
denominational society understand that we were doing 
their work — as we were — better than they could do 
it themselves. For myself I was tired of the strain of 
editorial life ; and Old and New was merged into Scrih- 
ner's. This is the reason why Philip Nolan's Friends 
was printed in that magazine." The author of such nar- 
rative poems as Bitter Sweet and Kathrina would of 
course have been congenial to Unitarian readers any- 
way, and they would have remained unstirred by the 
heresies therein ventilated. It is ironic to find that Dr. 
Holland did not escape the common fate of reformers 
any more than Scribner himself kept his well-known pro- 
fessional morality above reproach by publishing him — 
for when Stedman came to publish in the magazine his 
series on the American Poets, Dr. Holland very strongly 
objected on moral grounds to including his paper on 
Whitman, which proved, indeed, to arouse a great deal 
of controversy. It has been ever thus in the history of 


human thought; always reformers have dreamed them- 
selves the only sane pioneers, and to adventure beyond 
their last stake is to pass the frontier of safety. 

Intending to occupy a field which Harper's had not 
entered — the discussion, as well as the exposition, of 
ideas — still it w^as many years, said the Century as it 
made its debut, before Scrihner's thoroughly grasped and 
adopted the scheme for presenting, as the best of all 
magazine material, the elaborate discussion of living, 
practical questions. " Also we made only one attempt 
in the old series at popular studies, and now we know 
better how to manage it. There is nothing that opens 
before us now more attractive than this field of illus- 
trated historical research and representation." Many 
years was it, also, before the magazine ventured to depart 
from the old custom of recapitulating each month the 
progress of civilisation. Literature, Home and Society, 
the World's Work were sanctioned summaries of which 
only the first possessed much claim to be included in a 
magazine that no longer sought to occupy the place of a 
newspaper as well. Another slow evolution from the 
old to the new was the gradual cessation of self-con- 
sciousness about the names of contributors. More than 
a decade later than the first Putnam's and the Atlantic, 
it had begun with printing names in the Contents. In 
the first number the only name permitted to appear with 
the text was that of George MacDonald, who was running 
a serial. Gradual also, although it featured and paid 
for American material from the outset, was its relinquish- 
ment of the English reprint. " The system of reprint- 
ing English serials, which had proven itself the deadly 
blight of native literature," reminisced the Century, " was 
tried for a year or two and then wholly given up. One 
of the things which tended to give Scrihner's a distinc- 
tive character of its own was its discarding of English 
serials and its cordial encouragement of every sign of 
originality and force in the younger American writers." 

It w^as the good fortune of the Century to come into 


existence at the moment when a renascence was prepar- 
ing in American literature, said that magazine modestly 
in its fourth volume. But indeed, this renascence seems 
more due to Scribner's than to any other one force. It 
is true that it had come in with a new era ; that the war 
had pushed the old and narrow American life into a pre- 
mature antiquity, and that many new periodicals and 
journals sprang out of this mental reaction. But most 
of them perished; and the new writers, thanks to the 
unfair competition with English authors, could find for 
their fermentation no outlet in books. It was because 
the pages of Scribner's were open to these youngsters 
that they lived to grow up. Especially was this true of 
the Southern writers, and the service of Scribner's in 
this respect and its wider service in helping the wounds 
of the war to heal — in accordance with the newly dis- 
covered surgical treatment by drainage — cannot be over- 
estimated. Their War articles were not only superb 
journalism, but splendid patriotism also. In the chroni- 
cle of the war by the leading generals, each side will dis- 
cover the true mettle of the other, the magazine ventured 
to hope. It was in 1873 that it sent a special train 
through the South with the purpose of securing a series 
of articles. " The discussion now going on in the Cen- 
tury about the re-organisation of society in the Southern 
States," they said, " is of the utmost value in putting the 
North in possession of the facts and the South of a 
temper, to which inherited views and party spirit have 
blinded both sides." 

One of the articles in Scribne/s stated the general 
situation. " A Northern business man who had pub- 
lished an Army and Navy Journal or something of the 
sort during the war, when he found his occupation gone, 
tried to exploit the local patriotism of the South by 
getting up a series of Southern text-books, with results 
that will not be forgotten by the investors. Magazine 
after magazine was started. But the new generation 
began to recognise it was necessary to seek a wider public. 


It was not until Southern men began to write for North- 
ern magazines that the South became a factor in the liter- 
ary life of the country." 

The first Northern magazine open to them was Scrib- 
ners, both in stories which represented their life and 
articles which stated their point of view. Immediately 
after the war there was in the South as in the North the 
usual ebullition of literary energy. But in the South it 
was much increased by the desire to present their cause 
aright to the world. The activity in starting new maga- 
zines as vehicles for the passionate desire for expression 
was proportionately even greater in the South than in 
the North, where, as we have seen, it was abundantly 
fruitful. But these magazines naturally had even greater 
mortality. The South had never been able to support 
periodicals, and now that it was impoverished it was 
far less able to do so. The writers, too, of such a litera- 
ture as the South felt the need of to represent it aright 
were far less able than formerly to work for nothing, 
even had the magazines been able to continue, on their 
short rations, to afford them a medium for their patriot- 
ism. To exploit this patriotism had been their publish- 
ers' frank and commendable object. De Bow's Review 
began the last of its many series, " devoted to the restora- 
tion of the Southern States." The Southern Review 
dedicated itself " to the despised, the disfranchised, and 
the down-trodden people of the South." In Charlotte, 
Atlanta, Raleigh, Charleston, and New Orleans other 
magazines took up the cry — the children of the new 
generation must be educated in the old ideals and the 
North must not be allowed to misrepresent their fathers 
to them. The most successful of these short-lived maga- 
zines was the Southern of Baltimore, which lasted five 
years. In addition to its English reprints, it introduced 
several young Southerners in original work. The chief 
of these were Margaret Preston, Malcolm Johnston, 
[Sidney Lanier, Paul Hamilton Hayne, Maurice Thomp- 
■son, Professor Gildersleeve, and Professor Price. But 


the Southern in spite of the best intentions could pay 
nothing — Malcolm Johnston, for instance, gave them his 
Dukesborough Tales, which afterward reached a wider 
audience and brought some return to the author. All 
of these people were shortly publishing in Scribner's at 
the regular rates. On the trip which the magazine 
planned in 1873 for the purpose of its articles on the New 
South, was discovered in New Orleans one of the story- 
tellers of the New South, George W. Cable; and within 
six months he appeared in its pages. Within half a 
dozen years John Esten Cooke, Thomas Nelson Page, 
and Joel Chandler Harris were coming to the front. Mrs. 
Burnett was one of Scribner's greatest finds. In 1881 
the editor in calling attention to the fact that seven ar- 
ticles by Southerners had appeared in one number, said, 
** We are glad to recognise that there is a permanent 
productive force in literature in the Southern States. 
We welcome the new writers to the great republic of let- 
ters." So much was the Century a patron of the new 
authors that its " dialect '' stories seemed to many readers 
decidedly overworked; and they longed for pages less 

The Atlantic and Harpe/s quickly followed Scribner's 
lead, the former exploiting Maurice Thompson and 
Charles Egbert Craddock and printing in series George 
Cary Eggleston's A Rebel's Recollections. Lippincotts, 
and the Independent made the fame of Sidney Lanier. 
Of this last periodical Maurice Thompson became literary 
editor in 1888, though Southerners had long singled it 
out for special condemnation on account of its bias. In 
1890 Mr. Walter Hines Page of North Carolina even 
entered the sanctum of the New England holy of holies, 
the Atlantic. 

All this change of attitude. North and South, had been 
brought about by Scribner's. It had not only opened its 
doors to Southern writers, but it had gone to them and 
invited them to come in. To the opportunity thus af- 
forded, the disappearance of the truculent, professional, 


and provincial spirit of Southern literature owes its first 
impetus and its gathering strength. Mr. Mims in his 
Life of Lanier gives us some interesting details of this, 
as well as an excellent resume of the situation. 

In the period '75-85 the old order of Southern writers passed 
away. Paul Hamilton Hayne best represents the transition to 
the new group. This began to write, not in the attempt to 
create a distinctively Southern literature, but because the new 
literature, unlike the old, was related directly to the life of the 
people. Sentimentalism was superseded by a healthy realism. 
They were (for the first time) wiUing to be known as men who 
made their living by literature. They did not want to be sec- 
tional but national in spirit. Joel Chandler Harris said, " What 
does it matter whether I am Northerner or Southerner. Litera- 
ture that can be labelled Northern, Southern, Western, or East- 
en is not worth labelling at all. Whenever we have a genuinely 
Southern literature, it will be American and cosmopolitan as 
well." All of the new writers had little patience with the 
former literary methods and criticism of the South. As early 
as 1871 the Southern Magazine in a review of Southern writ- 
ers had written : " We should be courageous enough to con- 
demn bad art and bad workmanship no matter whose it be; to 
say, for instance, to more than half of the writers in these vol- 
umes, * Ladies, you may be all that is good, noble, and fair ; you 
may be the pride of society and the lights of your homes; so 
far as you are Southern women our hearts are at your feet — 
but you have neither the genius, the learning, nor the judgment 
to qualify you for literature.' " In 1874 Hayne condemned in 
the same magazine the provincial literary criticism which had 
prevailed. " No foreign ridicule, however richly deserved, can 
stop this growing evil until our own scholars and thinkers have 
the manliness and the honesty to discourage instead of applaud- 
ing such manifestations of artistic weakness and artistic plati- 
tudes as have hitherto been foisted on us by persons uncalled 
and unchosen by any of the Muses." 

Scrihner's in providing Southern writers with an ap- 
proved and profitable Northern vehicle created a new na- 
tional attitude in both North and South; and shaped a 
literature it had gone far toward creating, by banishing 
its provinciality. 

But the War articles performed a great service to more 
than the nation at large. They lifted the circulation of 
the Century to a high figure and they made much money 


for the book publishing end of the two firms. Told by 
the actors themselves on both sides and illustrated with 
an excellence never attained before, they naturally at- 
tracted enormous attention. Those contributed by Gen- 
eral Grant were, on account of his prominence and some 
special circumstances, particularly profitable. Mr. Al- 
bert Bigelow Paine gives an account of them in his Life 
of Mark Twain. Mr. Gilder told Twain, he says, that 
the Century editors had endeavoured to get Grant to con- 
tribute to their War series, but that not until his financial 
disaster, as a member of the firm of Grant and Ward, 
had he been willing to consider the matter; that Grant 
now welcomed the idea of contributing three papers to 
the series and that the promised payment of $500 for 
each had gladdened his heart and relieved him of immedi- 
ate anxiety. (Somewhat later, adds Paine, the Century 
Company of their own accord added liberally to this sum.) 
Twain went to see Grant about book publication and was 
told that they had made him a proposition for his com- 
pleted memoirs. Grant had not thought the proposition 
good enough, but when Twain told the General what 
offer, in his person, the American Book Company of 
Hartford would make, he took the General's breath away. 
Yet Grant demurred, saying that the book ought to go, 
other things being equal, to the man who had first sug- 
gested it to him. Then said Twain, " I am the man, and 
you should place your book with my firm," and recalled 
to him a conversation to that effect. After much dis- 
cussion the General agreed, though he felt that Twain 
was bankrupting himself by the royalty he offered. All 
this got into the papers, and Mark Twain publishing Gen- 
eral Grant became the most talked of event in the book 
world. To increase the advertising the project received, 
certain newspapers persistently circulated rumours of es- 
trangements between Grant and the Century and between 
Mark Twain and the Century as a result of the book de- 
cision. Nothing but the most cordial relations and un- 
derstanding prevailed, says Mr, Paine, but all this greatly 


fomented public interest in the General's Century papers, 
which in that respect were already record-breakers. And 
as if this were not fortunate enough, it was increased by 
another happening. The public knew that General Grant 
was dying as he wrote or dictated his story with Mark 
Twain hovering around to encourage him. It appeared 
that at one of their sittings they discovered that Mark had 
cleared out of camp once in Missouri just in time to es- 
cape capture by the man whose book he was now going 
to publish. The Century got wind of this extremely pic- 
turesque anecdote, and at their request Mark wrote for 
their War series the story of his share in the Rebellion 
and particularly of his war relations with General Grant. 
The good fortune and fine editorial sense in all this at- 
tended the succeeding leaders of the magazine. Ken- 
nan's Siberian papers proved another enormous sensa- 
tion, and won the magazine the proud distinction of be- 
ing forbidden to enter Russia. The next sensation was 
greater still, although the public had time to moderate 
its transports in the four years that the articles ran. 
This was the History of Lincoln by his two secretaries, 
which had been in cold storage for twenty years await- 
ing Mr. Smith's sagacity. As early as 1867 Hay and 
Nicolay had tried to get Harper's interested, but neither 
it nor any of the book publishers would listen. " We 
shall have to write it and publish it on our own hook some 
day," said Hay. When after a score of years, the Cen- 
tury asked them to set about the work in earnest, they 
received the largest price any magazine had paid up to 
that date — fifty thousand dollars. Harpers, interested 
at last, again had to yield to her rival. During negotia- 
tions Hay wrote to Nicolay : " I do not believe Gilder 
will want the stuff for his magazine. It is not adapted 
for that ; there is too much .truth in it. We will not fall 
in with the present tone of blubbering sentiment of 
course." John Hay wrote another record-maker for the 
Century. The success of The Bread- Winners exceeded 
that of any previous American novel. Its anonymous au- 


thor set everybody guessing. A Western Doctor of Di- 
vinity declared that he wrote it and that the publishers 
never paid him. But this, the customary fate of anony- 
mous hits, is not so amusing as that the once anonymous 
Atlantic refused it because the author would not sign it. 
Before taking the most important step that can happen 
to a maiden magazine — changing its name for better 
or for worse — Scribner's in 1881 pubHshed a pamphlet 
modestly relating her birth, breeding, and expectations. 
" In the height of prosperity she was about to assume a 
name of broader significance. The magazine whose ways 
are not the ways of the present time cannot live on its old 
reputation, but must stiffen and die with the infirmities of 
age. (Like a theatrical star, only constant contact with 
the public can keep her young!) There were those who 
predicted that she would die by the severe law of natural 
selection as had died Knickerbocker and Putnam's. The 
starting of a magazine in face of able and established 
competitors is always a most venturous and difficult task. 
So it had been with her. It was fortunate perhaps that 
her conductors and editors were inexperienced in the con- 
duct of periodicals. Lack of skill was more than made 
up by their freedom from bondage to old ways of doing. 
It did not take them long to discover that the methods 
and men then in vogue were not sufficient. A new maga- 
zine must find new men. It was thought necessary to 
make it cheap in the beginning, but before the close of the 
year it was found that a three dollar magazine could not 
afford the highest excellence, and the second year began 
with a most perilous change for a new periodical. It was 
enlarged and the price raised to four dollars, at a moment 
of great popular excitement and no little financial strin- 
gency. But after a temporary check it was soon again 
on the high road to prosperity. New methods of engrav- 
ings were ventured upon in the face of a shower of ad- 
verse criticism. The steady increase in circulation of 
from ten to twenty per cent, a year made it possible to 
augment its facilities in every direction." 


In short, the young woman was putting herself on 
record before taking a decisive step. In spite of her ef- 
forts to have it all understood, people had got the idea 
that she was married to a book-publishing house, and she 
didn't propose to stand it any longer. She was a maiden 
bright and free, no guile seduced, no force could violate, 
and she didn't propose to take unto lierself a mate unless 
it were Father Time itself, the everlasting. And so, to 
the confusion of library-boys until time itself shall have 
an end, Scrihner's was going to become the Century. 
For her scorned and reputed spouse, some while after- 
ward, having caught the habit from his long quasi-rela- 
tion, married a maiden of the name he had grown used 
to; and generations yet unborn will complain therefore 
of mistaken identity. [_The history of this noble young 
woman, Scrihner's Nimiber Two, belongs rather to the 
twentieth century than to the nineteenth. Having 
bounded into immediate maturity like Minerva from the 
head of Jove — fully dowered and with gifts in her hands 
and armoured with the welded experience of the parent 
brain — she had no gro wing-up days. On the night of 
publication her first edition, of one hundred thousand 
copies, had been sold out. As Stevenson might have 
paraphrased himself (in the rich and genial Vailima Let- 
ters, with which she continued, in 1888, her second year 
of appeal to the ripest culture in America), she hopefully 
arrived without any journey whatever, which is the best 
of all ways to get there. 

Here is Dr. Holland's last announcement in the old 

The present Mr. Charles Scribner and I have ceased to be 
proprietors, and Mr. Roswell Smith has acquired about nine- 
tenths of the stock. The remainder has been divided among 
the young men who have done so much and worked so faith- 
fully to make the magazine what it has been and what it is. I 
am glad they own it, and that it is Mr. Smith's design that they 
shall have more as they win the ability to purchase it. I owe 
so much to these men that I shall greatly rejoice in any sub- 
stantial rewards that they may reap for their long and faithful 
service in building up the interests of the concern. 


And here is the first announcement of the new Century: 

Names do not make magazines but magazines give signifi- 
cance to names. We wholly sympathise with readers in their 
sentimental regard for our old name and wish it were never 
to be dropped, for it means more to us than it ever could mean 
to a subscriber and reader; but the reasons for the change are 
imperative. Scribner's Monthly started eleven years ago with- 
out a subscriber; the Century starts with virtually one hundred 
and twenty-five thousand subscribers. The former was begun 
without experience and with everything to learn ; the latter lifts 
its fresh ensign upon a field of conquest. The former was 
obliged to go out among the men and women of letters and ask 
for contributions, which, in many instances, were doubtfully 
or questioningly rendered; the latter is overwhelmed with 
voluntary offerings of the best material from the best pens. 
The former sought in vain among artists and" engravers for 
such illustrations as would satisfy its wants and reaHse its 
ideals ; the latter begins with all the talent at its command which 
Scribner's Monthly helped to discover and develop. The same 
business manager is at the front, and the same editorial force 
controls and directs the pages, the same man directs the art 
department who made Scribner's Monthly famous as a reformer 
in the arts of designing and wood-engraving. 

But it is destiny which disposes. Almost the last word 
Dr. Holland had written for the magazine he founded 
was, " With the burden of business responsibility lifted 
from my shoulders, I hope to find my hand more easily 
at work with my pen.'' Before the Far West saw the new 
fawn-coloured dress of the Century, replacing the too 
prosaic blue of the old Scribner's, the pen had dropped 
from his hand forever; and the issue which announced 
that its life was likely to continue, with unchanged name, 
perhaps for centuries, announced that the life of the editor 
was concluded. 

The service the magazine rendered for Southern 
writers and for the reunion of the whole country sinks, 
however, almost to insignificance (if one may say so with- 
out being accused of cynicism!) beside the beneficence of 
another achievement, the end of which is not yet. It 
began the modern system of magazine advertising. 

The history of periodical advertising in America pre- 


sents three stages, that of the newspaper, of the weekly, 
and of the monthly. The stupendous development of 
American journalism, in which it has outstripped the 
world, would have been impossible without advertising 
patronage. The growth of newspapers, we are told, has 
been about a thousand per cent, in each half of the cen- 
tury. Newspaper advertising began as a habit with the 
last decade of the eighteenth century, but it cannot be said 
to have increased even proportionately until the third 
decade of the nineteenth, when it suddenly leaped for- 
ward with giant strides. This was by reason of the 
establishment of the New York Sim in 1833, the Herald 
in 1835, the Philadelphia Public Ledger in 1836, and the 
New York 7 rihiine in 1841. Even for a long time after 
advertising space was regularly set aside in newspapers, 
however, the majority of them did not have any regular 
rates for advertising. Newspapers depended mainly 
upon subscriptions or graft (the latter the more de- 
pendable part of their income) and they got what they 
could for advertisements as extra revenue. " In the 
seventies," says Mr. George P. Rowell of Printer's Ink, 
" advertising had in the ordinary run of papers little 
standard of value. Conditions now are in every way 
almost inconceivably different. John Wanamaker spends 
more money for advertising every week in the dailies than 
A. T. Stewart did in a year." 

It was Robert Bonner who first made the newspapers 
and the public appreciate what could be done with ad- 
vertising. He would take a whole page of a paper, and 
say in it over and over again, " Fanny Fern Writes Only 
For the Ledger." My success, he cried aloud frankly 
and reverberatingly from every housetop, is owing to my 
liberality in advertising. " I get all the money I can lay 
my hands on and throw it out to the newspapers," he said, 
" and before I can get back to my office, there it all is 
again and a lot more with it." But his returns for this 
sort of advertising were due merely to the novelty of 
advertising in bulk and with display — when the novelty 


wore away, as it happened in book advertising fifty years 
later, the method was no longer effective. Other adver- 
tising of his, however, was far more subtle and ingenious ; 
and each new device for attracting attention to his weekly 
hit the bull's eye. They were legion. Godkin mentions 
one in a letter to a friend in 1858. 

The great topic of the quidnuncs for the past few days has 
been Edward Everett's extraordinary undertaking to write for 
the New York Ledger, a two-penny weekly magazine circu- 
lating nearly three hundred thousand copies. It is filled with 
tales of the Demon Cabman, the Maiden's Revenge, the Tyrant's 
Vault, and a great variety of " mysteries " and " revelations," 
and, in short, barring its general decency of language, belongs 
to as low and coarse an order of literature as any publication 
in the world. By the lavish use of puffery a la Barnum, the 
proprietor, a journeyman printer four or five years ago, has 
amassed a large fortune. He offered to pay over to the Ladies 
Mount Vernon Association — a project in which Mr. Everett 
is greatly interested — the sum of $10,000 in case the latter 
would undertake to write one article every week for one year. 
To the astonishment of the whole Union the ex-ambassador, 
ex-secretary, ex-president of Harvard University, ex-editor of 
the Greek Reader, the scholar, the exquisite, the one aristocrat 
of " the universal Yankee nation " has accepted the proposal. 
Bonner will no doubt shortly fill whole sides of the newspapers 
with announcements of the fact. 

But whether it was because Bonner heroically main- 
tained at home an idealism he could not exercise abroad 
(amazing figure!) or whether advertising in weeklies had 
not yet in his estimation become profitable, or whether his 
ingenious advertising mind had determined that the 
money lost in not accepting advertising in his own paper 
was money well spent for the most unique advertising he 
could get under the circumstances — the surprising fact is 
that he never even in the day of the Ledger's colossal 
success inserted a single advertisement. The. paradox — 
as Gonoril might say — makes speech poor and breath 
unable! Certainly some weeklies had already begun to 
make fortunes out of advertising, under that pleasantest 
of systems which allowed them to get all of their text for 
nothing. Nor was the English reprint their only gratui- 


tous fodder. Mr. Rowell remembers the Waverly of 
Boston, which lived entirely upon the effusions of roman- 
tic misses and young men at college, and never paid one 
cent for its contributions. It was a weekly, sold for ten 
cents, and it charged one dollar a line for its abundant 
advertisements. This admirable plan is by no means 
archaic, even if the international copyright law cuts off 
one source of free material and the vanity of young per- 
sons is now less easily appeased. A great many weeklies 
and monthlies exist solely for advertising purposes, espe- 
cially in States where public opinion is not exacting in 
the matter of patent medicine and other questionable ad- 
vertisements. Mr. Rowell raises a humorous eyebrow 
over the dozens of papers published in Augusta, Maine, 
the capital of the State, for prices ranging around twenty- 
five cents a year, and queries why the Post Office law 
should be so flouted. It is interesting to recall, as an ex- 
ample of how difficult it is to draw the line, that the 
Delineator was established, says he, for the purpose of 
advertising the Butterick Paper Patterns and with no 
other purpose. Yet bare as it was of other features, it 
early found more than a hundred thousand women glad 
to pay the subscription price in advance for it. The 
question of admitting it to the mails puzzled the clerks 
in the Post Office Department, but if they ever excluded 
it, the time of its exclusion was brief. Of so little ac- 
count was considered the advertising it printed that the 
man who supplied the printing-ink took his pay in ad- 
vertising space: at last accounting, the magazine was 
charging six dollars a line for advertising. 

All this is quoted not to show the guile of the advertis- 
ing man from the very start (where, oh, where is the 
need?) or the continuous performance of his growing im- 
portance (humiliating task for the scribe!), but to em- 
phasise the fact that magazines did not once conceive 
advertising worth their attention nor did advertisers con- 
sider magazines worth their consideration. Mr. Rowell, 
who founded one of the earliest advertising agencies and 


made in 1869 the first permanent lists of newspapers and 
periodicals for agency purposes, says that circumstances 
led him to buy a space on the outside cover page of Our 
Young Folks for the period of a year, hoping to sell it at 
a profit. But no one wanted to buy it and he had to use 
it himself. His advertisement after lying dormant for 
some time brought him in the end an advertiser, and he 
doubtless made the experience of assistance in furthering 
the as yet undeveloped work of the agency. This, then, 
was the condition of magazine advertising. To account 
for it, in face of the successful demonstration which ad- 
vertising had already made in newspapers and some semi- 
literary periodicals, is not easy. It may have been be- 
cause of the scorn of or indifference to the business end 
of the enterprise which had so often characterised even 
those magazines which tried to keep their feet on the 
ground and their heads out of the high air of idealism. 
From the very beginning most of them had genuinely dis- 
claimed motives of commercial success — they had striven 
to mould minds and create a literature. To many such, 
advertising seemed sordid; and, indeed, they held them- 
selves above all the details of the commercial side. One 
might have expected, perhaps, the most extreme cases of 
idealism in the pioneer publishers, as they appeared in 
State after State ; and it is noticeable that everywhere the 
pioneer sentiment on advertising was contemptuous. The 
cruder the country the loftier the aspirations of its volun- 
teer editors. But to Chicago in 1850 (though certainly 
crude and new enough) one would not have looked for 
juvenile ideaHsms — she already knew herself the capital 
of the northwestern Empire and had no illusions as to the 
foundation of her greatness. Consequently it is a strik- 
ing illustration of the current literary attitude which was 
afforded by a miscellany called Garden City. This was 
founded by Sloan, the patent-medicine man, who had so 
profitably advertised his patent medicines in the Gem of 
the Prairie that he desired a magazine of his own. Mr. 
Fleming tells us that for the first few numbers he even 


printed in his literary pages a " Sloan's Column." But 
although the magazine had its origin as an advertising 
medium, it gradually curtailed these notices of the pro- 
prietor's wares and throughout its last years admitted 
very little advertising of any kind. One is perhaps not 
surprised to hear that in 1854 it was merged into a Boston 
periodical, seeing how long it had been heading for the 
heights of sublimity. And even in Chicago there ap- 
peared something peculiarly base about advertising which 
made other schemes for self-support the less of two evils. 
The Chicago Magazine frankly announced that it ex- 
pected to get revenue " daguerreotyping leading citizens 
and near-by towns," yet it said magnificently at the same 
time, " We respond to the wish of a contemporary that 
we might be able to dispense with advertising as an ave- 
nue of public patronage ; but at present the law of neces- 
sity must overrule the law of taste." 

What then demolished this elegant delusion? Both 
Mr. F. W. Ayer and Mr. Rowell, heads of our oldest and 
best advertising agencies, unite in saying it was Scrib- 
ner's. The new order of things began in 1870 with the 
success and policy of this magazine. Yet like most new 
orders, it made its way slowly and in the face of opposi- 
tion. The early Harper's was as conservative and as 
tentative in its attitude toward the innovation as it had 
been about introducing opinions into its pages. Mr. 
Rowell narrates an experience in Forty Years An Ad- 
vertising Agent: 

Harper's in 1868 not only did not seek advertisements but 
actually refused to take them. The writer remembers listening 
with staring eyes while Fletcher Harper the younger related 
that he had in the early seventies refused an offer of $18,000 
for the use of the last page for a year for an advertisement of 
the Howe Sewing Machine. I have stated that Harper's was 
established for the deliberate purpose of advertising the books 
published by the firm. In the early days the reading matter 
was largely made up of what might be called advance notices 
of forthcoming publications. Advertisements from outsiders 
were declined. The tempting proposition of the Howe people 
would have removed from the last page the prospectus that 


told on what terms the Magazine, the Weekly, the Basar, and 
the Round Table could be had either together or separately. 

It is not clear why advertisers were so long content to 
let the magazine field go unessayed. If magazines had a 
way of failing, so had the weeklies and the dailies; and 
readers who paid a quarter and more for their periodical 
were perhaps more likely to patronise the local firms and 
the railroads that were the first advertisements to venture 
into the monthlies. The reason is probably to be found 
in that unprogressiveness of American business which 
seems to us to-day so antediluvian. That advertisers con- 
quered their inertia at all appears to have been due to the 
industry of Scrihnefs in approaching them and the new 
Advertising Agent in corralling them. It was the latter 
\vho made possible the enormous growth of advertising. 
[How enormous, Mr. Ayer figured out in 1894. That 
year the December issue of the Century had one hundred 
and thirty- four pages of advertising. Harper's in 1882, 
after thirty-two successful years without them, yielded to 
the inevitable and began to insert them : in December of 
1894 it carried one hundred and forty-four pages. At 
the page rate of $250, the advertising income of such an 
issue would be $36,000. Putting the average amount at 
ninety-two pages a month, the advertising receipts of this 
one magazine would reach $276,000. It is estimated that 
the December, 1894, issue of the six leading monthlies 
represented $180,000. 

Yet indispensable as the work of the agency had been 
in building this volume of business, the slowness of some 
magazines to appreciate the value of the service more than 
matched their early reluctance to advertise at all. Mr. 
Rowell gives an instance of this: 

We were paying Harper's Weekly as much as five thousand 
a month, but as circulation statements from the office fell short 
of being definite, there came a time when the rating accorded 
by our directory failed to be satisfactory, and I went to Frank- 
lin Square to talk the matter over. I explained that we had to 
have the same sort of statement from one paper as another, 
what we asked from the Bungtown Banner we were obliged to 


require from Harper's Weekly. There was a pause. The gen- 
tlemen looked at each other, and one quietly said to the others: 
*' It seems to me if Mr. Rowell talks that way, we don't want 
to continue to do business with him " ; and the others in a rather 
indifferent way appeared to coincide with that view. There 
was nothing more to be said and I came away. And the next 
advertising order sent out from the Rowell Agency was refused. 
By and by the rule was rescinded but in the meantime we had 
gotten out of the habit of recommending the paper, and a time 
came when instead of sending advertising to it to the amount 
of five thousand a month, I doubt if so much as that went to it, 
upon orders from our agency, in some periods of five years. 
When, a long time after, the old house of Harper and Brothers 
failed, I could but wonder whether the firm had been as suc- 
cessful in shutting off streams of revenue from numerous other 

By the end of the century the advertiser had become en- 
throned. There were agents who humorously suggested 
that the magazine of the twentieth century would contain 
just enough literary stuff to float the advertisements, and 
who recalled that friends of theirs resembled Gladstone in 
finding the latter more interesting than the former. Per- 
haps a prophetic eye or two had even discerned a distant 
day when an established magazine might change its 
make-up entirely for the sake of exploiting its advertising. 
The new Scrihner's and Lippincotfs had long since lured 
the readers to adventure hopefully in the vast hinterland 
of their advertising section by spreading artfully the dis- 
jected members of an illustrated comic throughout its 
length. Possibly this was the germ of an idea that was 
to scandalise the high brow and pucker the low in the 
early years of the twentieth century. Wiser than most, 
Harper's may, in resisting the advertisement for so long 
a time, have recognised the little rift that by and by would 
make all the music mute. Who knows ? " The securing 
of contracts for advertising," blandly remarks a recent 
book on the subject, *' is the main objective in a modern 
magazine. The receipts from purchasers at news stands 
and from subscribers cover only a small percentage of the 
total expenses of the production. The kind of goods 
most advertised are staples of home consumption. Hence 


the people who must be reached by a magazine whose pub- 
Hshers wish to make it a medium for a large volume of 
advertising, are the home-maintainers. To get this ad- 
vertising, you must have in the literary pages the stuff 
that will appeal to the people interested in those * ads ' ! " 
This leads us to one of the most interesting back-ac- 
tions in the history of our periodicals. Godkin suggests 
it in an article in the Atlantic January, 1898. 

The idea that the newspapers utter the opinions of which their 
readers approve is being made less tenable every year by the 
fact that more and more newspapers rely on advertising rather 
than on subscriptions for their support and profits; and agree- 
ment with their readers is thus less and less important to them. 
The old threat of " stopping my paper " if a subscriber came 
across unpalatable views in the editorial columns is therefore 
not so formidable as it used to be. The advertiser rather than 
the subscriber is now the newspaper bogie. He is the person 
before whom the publisher cowers and whom he tries to please; 
and the advertiser is very indifferent about the opinions of a 
newspaper. He wants to know how many persons see it rather 
than how many agree with it. 

All this seems at first very encouraging. We have, 
then, the advertiser to thank that we may hear, as often 
as we do, what is being thought by people whose minds 
are more enlightened or unfettered than ours. Blessed 
be the Century that in helping itself so helped us all, when 
it founded modern magazine advertising. But Godkin's 
next sentence plunges us into despair again. " The con- 
sequence is that newspapers of largest circulation are less 
and less organs of opinion. In fact, in some cases, ad- 
vertisers use their influence to prevent the expression of 
opinions. There are not many papers which can afford 
to defy a large advertiser.'* 

If for " newspapers " you may read " magazines '' (and 
possibly etiquette might even have caused the Atlantic to 
substitute the former for the latter word, had it been 
written), how drunk is now the hope wherein a moment 
ago we dressed ourselves! There is something quite 
dizzying about this transfer of moral sensitiveness from 


the family-circle to the factory. What are we coming 
to? Oh Century, Century (as Sir Isaac said to his dog 
Diamond), if only you had known what you were doing! 
What avails the most beautiful temple to the Muses when 
you have unlocked the gates to the Barbarians ? 



The nineteenth century in the magazines presented a long 
and amusing struggle with the theory of anonymity of 
authorship. It was part of the inherited attitudinising of 
literature, greatly reinforced in America by the gestures 
of Puritanism. Most periodicals and even some writers 
were eager to demonstrate that art should be its own re- 
ward ; and having industriously sown the pretty idea 
throughout the land, it was hardly fair of them to com- 
plain so bitterly when coarser-fibred United States Con- 
gressmen ate the wheat that grew from it later. Authors, 
especially New England ones, liked to think of their call- 
ing as a thing remote from the market — particularly 
since, but for the soft word, their parsnips would have 
gone unbuttered anyway. And it was not to the interest 
of magazines to uproot the illusion — -particularly since 
they themselves, having invested actual money in a losing 
enterprise, constantly found it the sole consolation for 
their expenditure. Thus each of the parties, gladly or 
otherwise, fanned the flame of their divinity. Some 
writers, too, seemed to have thought that magazine work 
was beneath them. Longfellow, for instance, more than 
once wrote to a periodical that he would contribute if he 
could do so anonymously. Some, too, seem genuinely to 
have felt that a tree should be known to the public only 
by its fruits. But whatever the reason, the lame show- 
ing that editors and authors made when they attempted 
to find a rational basis for anonymity as a policy, demon- 
strates that it was part of the sacrosanct pose of letters. 
In the prospectus which Charles Brockden Brown 
wrote for his Philadelphia magazine in 1803 he said: 




" I shall take no pains to conceal my name. Anybody 
may know it who chooses to ask me or my publisher, but 
diffidence or discretion hinders me from calling it out 
in a crowd ; and I have an insuperable aversion to naming 
myself to my readers. But an author or editor who takes 
no pains to conceal himself cannot fail of being known 
to as many as desire to know him. ... To accomplish 
his ends, the editor is secure of the liberal aid of many 
most respectable persons in this city and in New York. 
He regrets the necessity he is under of concealing these 
names since they would furnish the public with irresistible 
inducements to read what, when they had read, they 
would find sufficiently recommended by its own merits." 
It is easier to sympathise with Brown's temperamental 
objection than to understand the devious reasoning of 
his last remark. But the idea — firm-set, as we shall see, 
in the editorial mind — was certainly more explicable 
then than fifty years later when it was still flourishing. 
Ephemeral writing, although almost entirely confined to 
the professional classes, was still a business for vagabonds 
when it was not the pastime of gentlemen in mask. It 
was not a respectable occupation for any member of the 
middle class. Even forty years later. Holmes said 
that to be known as a writer would damage him as a 
doctor. But Brown's na'ive statement that to mention 
the names of his contributors would destroy the initiative 
of the public, was to bob up again many times in the 
course of the century. 

The Boston American Monthly, a third of a century 
later, achieved a more substantial reason for anonymity. 
As those who entered its portals must abandon individu- 
ality, why preserve their identity ? " We still believe the 
use of names to be incompatible with the character of a 
periodical which aims to represent views, tastes, and opin- 
ions of its own and not to be an arena for desultory dis- 
cussion; and which prefers the vigorous mental effort 
of the most obscure contributor to the use of a popular 
name however inspiring." Its contemporary the Pearl, 


being of a contrary persuasion, did not fail to note the 
fact that in this very editorial the American Monthly had 
allowed itself to mention the name of its most valuable 
contributor. " Now we believe the use of names," it 
said, " to be quite compatible with the character of every 
respectable periodical. First, because if an article be 
worthy of publication, it is worth acknowledging; and 
second, because every particle of fame or notoriety is so 
much stock-in-trade or capital. Certainly, it is no com- 
pliment to a subscriber to say that he will esteem an article 
with a name superior to that without one which is of 
more worth. It may require more philosophy to judge 
impartially, but how much greater is the compliment 
to the reader." So little was the Pearl obsessed by the 
genteel tradition of letters and so convinced of the prac- 
tical advantages accruing from the publication of names, 
that her conduct was scandalously commercial. Not only 
did she affix to articles the names of writers (that is, the 
important ones ! ) but she shamelessly blazoned them upon 
the cover and followed each with a list of his best-known 

This practice was later continued by Graham's and 
others. The devotee party scornfully though hotly con- 
tested every step of the way — those who entered the 
convent of letters should drop their worldly names at the 
door. So much had both editors and authors parted with 
their carefully exploited sanctities under the compulsion 
of crude human nature and of cruder commercialism, 
that by 1844 Godey's called attention to the growing 
fashion of magazines' featuring authors as writing for 
them only. " We have had several applications lately 
to write for us exclusively. We now say to one and all, 
we do not wish to make any such arrangements. It is 
impossible for a writer to vary from month to month 
enough to please the patrons of a particular magazine." 
Nevertheless, Godey's yielded to the fashion in the case 
of the extraordinarily popular Miss Leslie, and at a later 
date similarly advertised Marion Harland as writing for 


no other publication. Ever powerless were the Vestal 
Virgins to turn back the steady sweep of the invading 
barbarian! By 1848 a New York magazinist of English 
training was writing thus of American magazines to an 
English periodical : 

Their editors make a considerable figure in the literary 
world and their coniributors are sufficiently vain of themselves, 
as their practice of signing or heading articles with their names 
in full alone would show. One of the superficial peculiarities 
of American magazines, is that the names of all the contribu- 
tors are generally paraded conspicuously on the cover, very 
few seeking even the disguise of a pseudonym. The number 
of most " remarkable " men and women who thus display them- 
selves in print is really surprising. Willis's idea, so ridiculed 
by the Edinburgh, of a magazine writer becoming a great lion 
in society, is not there so great an absurdity. 

But Still the really elegant magazines, sustained by the 
consciousness of high literary purpose, clung to the purer 
view of the ministry of letters. The Atlantic toward 
the end of the next decade and Putnam's about the middle 
of it, held their torches high. Said the latter in opening : 

We pray the reader to enter, and pardon this delay at the 
door. Within he will find poets, wits, philosophers, critics, 
artists, travellers, men of erudition and science — all strictly 
masked, as becomes worshippers of that invisible Truth which 
all our efforts and aims will seek to serve. And as he turns 
from us to accost those masks, we remind the reader of the 
young worshipper of Isis. For in her temple at Sais upon the 
Nile, stood her image forever veiled. And when an ardent 
Neophyte passionately besought that he might see her and 
Vvould take no refusal, his prayer was granted. The veil was 
lifted and the exceeding splendour of her beauty dazzled him 
to death. Let it content you, dear reader, to know that be- 
hind those masks are those whom you much delight to honour 
— those whose names, like the fame of Isis, have gone into 
other lands. 

At the close of the first volume, this lyric nonsense was 
somewhat elucidated. Behind it lay a policy diplomatic 
and, alas ! commercial. The editors announced that their 
conviction had been that their best aid would come from 
younger writers with names yet unknown, and they had 


determined to present these on a perfect equality with 
iUustrious contributors whose names alone would grant 
an audience — for in literature the newcomer is always 
treated as an intruder. This illa^iical rhapsody, then, had 
been only literary hocuspocus to conceal the fact that the 
major part of their contributions were to come from new 
and hence not high-priced writers. Alike equivocal was 
the position of the other aristocratic magazines. Says 
Scudders' Lowell: 

Articles in the Atlantic as in the North American were un- 
signed, but the authorship was for the most part an open secret. 
The North American used to print a little slip with the author- 
ship of the separate articles set against the successive numbers 
of the articles; and this slip although not inserted in all the 
copies sold or sent to subscribers, was at the service of news- 
papers and the inner circle. The authorship of the principal 
articles of the Atlantic always leaked out. The authors them- 
selves sometimes were glad of the privacy, as they thought it 
secured them more independence and possibility of frankness. 
"For myself," wrote Lowell in 1859 [from the editorial chair], 
" I have always been opposed to the publication of authors' 
names at all." The practice of withholding names publicly con- 
tinued till 1862, when the index at the end of the volume dis- 
closed the authorship, and in 1870 the practice was begun of 
signing contributions. 

Nevertheless, Lowell knew perfectly well that the 
authorship of his principal articles always came out ; and 
he not only counted upon its doing so but recognised it 
as an asset. Pleasant is it also to observe that his busi- 
ness dealings were squarer than his mental processes. 
" You must be content," he wrote to a contributor. " Six 
dollars a page is more than can be got elsewhere, and 
w^e only pay ten to folks whose names are worth the other 
four dollars." The contributor might indeed have been 
content, for in those times many writers were both name- 
less and penniless too. This was Lucy Larcom's experi- 
ence with her most famous poem. " The little song 
Hannah Binding Shoes was brought into notice in a 
peculiar way — by me being accused of stealing it, by 
the editor of the magazine to which I had sent it with a 


request for the usual remuneration if accepted. Acci- 
dentally or otherwise, this editor lost my note and signa- 
ture, and then denounced me by name in a newspaper as 
a * literary thief ess ' ; having printed the verses with a 
nom de plume in his magazine without my knowledge. 
So far as successful publication goes, perhaps the first 
I considered so came when a poem of mine was accepted 
by the Atlantic Monthly, and as the poet Lowell was at 
that time editing the magazine I felt especially gratified. 
That and another poem were each attributed to a different 
person among our prominent poets, the Atlantic at that 
time not giving authors' signatures." The anonymity 
of the articles, remarked Higginson somewhat wryly, 
caused many amusing mistakes, " although in time the 
errors might be cleared up if people cared enough to find 
out." It would seem, then, that for all its high-sounding 
justifications anonymity was merely a means of advertise- 
ment, a way to get the contributions talked about. Here 
was a most subtle method of serving the high gods and 
the low gods at once. 

The uncomplimentary notion that a reader's attention 
must be constantly stimulated by the thought that per- 
haps the article he was reading had been written by some 
important personage, was held by the Nation also. It 
said in 1866: " An article of which the author is known 
is hardly ever judged on its merits. If he is still obscure 
most people will not take the trouble to read what he 
says; if he is famous, they will devour the veriest twaddle 
that comes from his pen and insist on fresh supplies 
every day." The latter seems permanently true, although 
there exists of course no compulsion upon a magazine 
to publish even signed twaddle unless it desires to do 
so, and the Nation was far from proposing to publish 
twaddle of any kind. But if it were ever true that 
obscure magazine writers were skipped without being 
read, it would not have been possible for any authors to 
become famous by reason of their magazine work — and 
owing to the extreme limitation of the book market 


through the lack of international copyright, most Ameri- 
can authors in the nineteenth century won their repu- 
tations in the magazines. It is apparent that they re- 
fused to blush unseen by their praisers, even if, by the 
policy of some high-class editors, they were at times 
compelled to waste their sweetness in the air of the most 
cultivated regions. No journal would contend for 
anonymity now on precisely the old basis. But for the 
larger part of the century, no editor saw that this was 
as absurd as if a theatrical manager should insist that 
his actors all go nameless, since some had to play the 
small parts. 

The Nation's canon of unsigned contributions went 
hand in hand with that of absolute editorial control. 
" All expression of opinion," said Mr. A. J. Sedgwick in 
retrospect, " were avowed as those of the paper itself ; and 
all articles and reviews were paid for to be published by 
the paper and to be revised and amended both for style 
and occasionally for matter. This rule used to be re- 
garded as the secret of good and responsible journalism, 
as it was once of quarterly reviewing.'' And this quo- 
tation brings us to the history of that vexed and delicate 
question, the '* editorial privilege " of magazines. 

Historically, editorial' policy is the child of editoral 
partisanship. The earlier magazines were constantly as- 
serting that all political and religious controversy would 
be rigorously avoided. It is a pity that editors ever 
deemed themselves compelled to forget that the title 
selected for their particular literary product was meant 
to signify a general storehouse of literary commodities, 
whose reason for existence was its unrestricted variety. 
That a magazine should seek to occupy a particular field 
and appeal for subscribers by reason of doing so, is only 
common sense; but it does not appear why any further 
editorial policy is desirable. Unfortunate is it for litera- 
ture and for American civilisation that the magazines 
of the nineteenth century, could not, and afterwards 
would not, hold to the position stated in the American 


Magazine and Historical Chronicle (Boston, 1743-46), 
whose motto was Jucunda Varietas. ** The encourage- 
ments that compositions of this nature have met with in 
Great Britain from people of all ranks and different 
sentiments in religion, politicks, etc., has induced us to 
begin the Publication. Our readers will do us the justice 
neither to applaud nor blame us for the right or wrong 
opinions, sentiments, or doctrines that may from time 
to time occur in these pages, because we are to be con- 
sidered as meer reporters of facts. All our praise, if 
we deserve any, wdll be that of collecting carefully, 
abridging with judgment and preserving the most perfect 

But such an Arcadian state of simplicity was not long 
allowed to exist. By the opening of the century, editors 
of magazines were beginning to feel, in the growing 
competition of newspapers, that they must identify them- 
selves with political parties or forfeit support. The 
National Magazine (Richmond, 1 799-1800) gave one of 
the earliest indications of the tendency. " The American 
people have long enough been imposed upon by pretended 
impartiahty — it is all a delusion. It is as incongruous 
for a publication to be alternately breathing the spirit 
of two parties as for a parson to preach to his audience 
Christianity in the morning and Paganism in the even- 
ing. Every editor who is capable of soaring above the 
flattery of villainy and the adulation of power has too 
much at stake to admit of neutrality. Animated by a 
zeal for the Republican cause and stimulated to exertion 
by a perfect abhorrence for governmental fraud and 
usurpation, I shall in the subsequent, like the preceding 
numbers, select and introduce such facts and arguments as 
will tend more directly to break the talisman and remove 
the mask of federal delusion and imposture.'' 

In the record of this magazine, the historian of the 
nineteenth century may read the entire history of "edi- 
torial privilege." Its stated object was to transmit to 
posterity the most valuable productions of the American 


pen already published, and it at once began editorially 
to winnow them! So lofty was its ideal that in the be- 
ginning it even refused original effusions, and it turned 
an obdurate shoulder to " a selection from trifling 
amusements." When it discovered that it could not sur- 
vive on so stern a regimen, it began to introduce lighter 
essays but it retained, in the wider field, its rigid edi- 
torial policy of partisanship. It edited everything, to the 
top of its bent, and nothing was permitted to intrude into 
even so frankly frivolous a subject as Feminine Garrulity 
(on which both political parties might supposedly unite) 
that could possibly be interpreted as supporting the 
" Federal Delusion.'' 

The idea that it was necessary for a magazine to main- 
tain a rigid policy and subject all its contributors to cen- 
sorship, once started, gained momentum rapidly. Edi- 
tors, even when they avowed themselves free from party 
bias, as rigorously maintained a personal one. Our mag- 
azine history is full of abortive attempts to establish pub- 
lications where vigorous writers denied admission to the 
current press might have some place to go; and the new 
magazines had no sooner sprouted than the radicals turned 
conservative and the ex-excommunicates began to excom- 
municate on their own account. Even Poe, Ishmael as 
he was and with, also, his larger vision of the destiny 
of the magazine than any of his contemporaries, de- 
manded to be literary dictator in the periodical he pro- 
jected. The Stylus should present an aristocracy of 
brains alone without regard to political or religious creed, 
yet continuity and marked certainty of purpose were the 
prime requisites of a magazine stamped with that indi- 
viduality essential to its success. This was attainable 
only where one mind alone had, at least general, control ; 
"and experience had shown him that in founding a journal 
of his own lay his sole chance of carrying out his peculiar 
intentions. Lowell, also, beHeved that a magazine should 
have but one editor. He wrote to Briggs that bitter ex- 
perience on the Pioneer had shown him that only thus 


could individuality be preserved — and we shall see that 
when he became authoritative editor of one, he, like Poe, 
made purely personal exactions, petty and large, upon 
his contributors in the name of general good taste and 
judgment. By the middle of the century, so fixed had 
become the idea that it was necessary for a literary maga- 
zine to maintain a rigid policy, that Bristed made it the 
chief basis of his complaint against the habit of gratui- 
tous contributions upon which most of our magazines 
were compelled to exist. " The gratuitous contribution 
destroys all homogeneousness and unity of tone in the 
periodicals of America by preventing them from having 
any permanent corps of writers. The editor must now 
and then be under the disagreeable necessity of paying 
for an article if only to carry off their ordinary vapid 
matter, but not often enough to make it an object to a 
good writer to attach himself to the concern. The unpaid 
writers, since the editors want variety and the writers 
the justification of their vanity, are migratory and appear 
in the greatest number of periodicals possible. Accord- 
ingly, it is not uncommon for a periodical to change 
its opinion on men and things three or four times a year.'* 
Out of all the benefits of an international copyright which 
would enable editors to pay every contributor, he thought 
that the greater homogeneousness which they could then 
maintain was the chief. Considerations of common hon- 
esty and of permitting a literature to be self-supporting 
were less important than preserving the artistic and in- 
tellectual integrity of a periodical! 

A high-class magazine as the repository of opinions 
to which it was not committed and for which the editor 
assumed no responsibility was still far in the future. 
Knick, as we have seen, had stoutly maintained but the 
one opinion that it should express no opinions whatever; 
and Harper's had followed suit. Putnam's did not long 
exist to demonstrate its, at best, only partial adherence 
to the doctrine that a magazine of high and national 
tone might venture to voice ideas not held by the popular 


majority; other journals of free opinion and owning no 
special allegiance, did not live long enough to disturb 
the conviction that Knickerbocker had followed the only 
safe path open to a literary magazine of general circu- 
lation. Bulwarks of civilisation, like the North Ameri- 
can, could shelter no poisonous or radical growths ; they 
were supposed to endorse every doctrine they dissemi- 
nated. Norton wrote to a friend when he and Lowell 
took control of the magazine that they intended to secure 
expression for the nation's clearest thought; but both of 
them were thoroughly imbued with the prevalent editorial 
notion that no thought was clear which they w^ere un- 
willing to follow. Henry Adams and Henry Cabot 
Lodge terminated their brief careers as editors of the 
Review because the owners would not sponsor an incendi- 
ary article in 1876 in favour of voting independently. 
Yet Mr. Howells says that Adams imparted such amazing 
life and go to the magazine that his predecessor Lowell 
generously declared that the new editor was making the 
old tea-kettle realise that it was of the same race as the 
steam-engine. The vigour was entirely owing to the 
occasional novelty of a radical opinion in the North 
American. It was, indeed, because the magazine had 
been made a monthly and could discuss questions while 
they were still debatable and thereby provoke a clash of 
opinion, that it became a live issue. Many subscribers 
thought the pillars of society w^ere crumbling when the 
rash Mr. Rice harboured the ravening Ingersoll in a tri- 
angle discussion with Gladstone and Cardinal Manning, 
upon the evidence for Christian belief. Perhaps it was 
the spectacle of the North American being purchased 
upon the news-stands by thousands of non-subscribers, 
just as if it had been some casual and ordinary journal, 
which made the first large dent in the editorial convic- 
tion that a magazine was under the necessity of fathering 
its children. Yet the Asylum idea, promulgated by the 
American in 1743 and so long discarded, was by no means 
resumed even in the newer journals. Some which an- 


nounced that they intended to discuss ideas ran the nor- 
mal course from radical to conservative as they became 
established, the process being decidedly hastened by the 
increasing shift of editorial concern from the subscriber 
to the advertiser. The protestants often ended by being 
as thoroughly " edited " as the partisans. Toward the 
end of the century the great outbreak of the little maga- 
zines came as a protest against the suppression on the 
part of the established ones of all convictions which 
were new. And, in general, protestant or partisan, if the 
editor did not agree with the author, or did not care 
to seem to do so, the latter might take his wares else- 
where. Holmes in one of his later prefaces to the Auto- 
crat comments upon the great change in the expressibility 
of new opinions since the Atlantic articles first appeared: 
" One may express his doubts upon anything now," he 
says, " so long as one does it civilly." To this it should 
be added, " and so long as one was a Holmes." The 
condition was summed up by a member of The Contribu- 
tors' Club in an Atlantic for 1900. 

I know a periodical which counts its subscribers by hun- 
dreds of thousands which will not risk the loss of a hundred by 
printing an article, otherwise pronounced to be wholly satis- 
factory, in which the doctrine of Evolution is assumed as true. 
The editors, the directors, the very office-boys admit that doc- 
trine; but there is a haunting fear of some shadowy subscriber 
in the Middle West who might be offended. " The policy of 
the office" is to be colourless. But to have literature or art, 
you must have a basis of belief (whether the belief is right 
or wrong) and belief has colour. It has been found — we have 
brilliant instances of it among our great magazines — that 
astonishingly useful work may be done inside of the most re- 
stricted limits. When so much can be done and has been done 
within these safe walls, why risk influence and power, says the 
editor — for mere circulation is an immense power — by going 
beyond them? The "safe" view is not calculated to foster 
literature in its widest or in its best sense. 

The Contributor's complaint is abundantly confirmed 
in the lives and letters of authors. It had been the prac- 
tice of both editors and publishers to preserve the ortho- 


doxy of their writers. Possibly no editor had ever gone 
the length Holmes pictures in one of his Autocrat poems: 

scowl howl scoflF sneer 

Then a s mile, and a glass and a teast and a eheer 

strychnine and whiskey, and ratsbane and beer 
For all the good wine, and we've s omo of it here, 
In cellar, in pantry, in attic, in hall, 
Down, down, with the tyrant that masters us all! J 
Lon g live the g^y servant that laugh s fop ^ ao qIH , 

But with the editor's habit of allowing the author to 
discover only in print the alterations which his conscience 
or his policy or his preference demanded, there is no 
reason why he should not have done so. In ante-bellum 
days, editors had gone quite as far as in one direction 
at least. Parke Godwin says it was the common practice 
of publishers in the thirties and forties to mutilate im- 
portant passages concerning slavery in the foreign works 
they had appropriated. Even the Atlantic, then flying 
the anti-slavery banner, walked a tight-rope. Lowell 
wrote to Higginson in 1859, ^' Editorially I am a little 
afraid of John Brown and Ticknor would be more so." 
If the adults of Philadelphia were never allowed to come 
upon the word " slavery " in their periodicals, the young- 
sters of Boston were similarly shielded from mention of 
another evil — it is said that one could never speak of 
death in the pages of that phenomenally successful peri- 
odical, the Youth's Companion. All the magazines in our 
Victorian era had their forbidden topics in common and 
each had its own in particular. Not only must the Young 
Person be kept uncorrupted from the world but the sensi- 
bilities of the old must not be shocked. Even the re- 
formers, as we have so frequently seen, had rigorous 
limitations of their own; or those who were not editors 
encountered, in the periodicals which admitted them, a 
definite dictum of So far shalt thou go and no farther. 
Lowell, having so often refused to toe the mark as 
contributor, insisted that Stedman do so; and Holland 
himself anathematised for creating a confusion in the 


realm of morals, sought in the Century to make Stedman 
voice his own idea of the immorality of Whitman. In 
1882 Curtis wrote to Norton: "I have resigned the 
editorship of Harper's Weekly. My article upon Folger's 
nomination, despite my request, was perverted and made 
to misrepresent my views and to make me absolutely 
ridiculous. The blow to me and to the good cause is 
very great and not exactly retrievable. To-day I am 
thought by every reader of the paper to be a futile fool. 
The thing is so atrocious as to be comical.'* The Weekly 
promptly confessed the mistake whereby the editorial 
had been edited, and Curtis withdrew his resignation. 
Gail Hamilton had often to defend her contributions to 
preserve them from verbal alterations which she thought 
damaged the integrity of her ideas. " I always lay out 
my work by reducing my editors to subjection," she 
wrote in 1887, having been on the crest of success long 
enough to conduct aggressive warfare. " It is impossible 
to accomplish anything so long as an editor is liable to 
pop up at the critical moment with a will of his own; 
when he is properly subjected, the rest is easy! " With 
the " policy of the office " and the natural conservatism 
of the periodicals of the nineteenth century, such an inde- 
pendent and vigorous thinker as she must have frequently 
collided. It is not improbable that every voicing of a 
new idea in the entire century of magazines, represents 
a compromise between author and editor. 

That an author should be made to say other than he 
believed or say it in a fashion other than he intended, is 
a survival of the pontifical past of print. Charles Reade 
in his Memoirs suggested the main reason for this when 
he was polishing off the editor of Once a Week (London) 
for tampering with his text. ** I have been obliged to 
tell him that he must distinguish between anonymous 
contributions and those in which an approved author 
takes the responsibility of signing his own name. An- 
swer — That with every wish to obhge me, he cannot 
resign his editorial functions. Answer — That if he 


alters my text I will publicly disown his alteration in an 
advertisement and send no more manuscript to the office. 
On this he seems to be down on his luck a little. For he 
confines himself to ending my last number on the feeblest 
sentence he can find out, and begging me to end the tale 
as soon as possible, which, of course, I shall not do to 
oblige him. But all this makes me feel that I am a very 
quarrelsome man or that some other authors must be 
very spiritless ones. Is it not monstrous that a person 
whose name does not appear should assume to alter the : 
text of an approved author who signs his name?" i 

Here is the situation all stated. Authors as a class 
have been willing to make all concessions to editors to 
get into print. Some of these concessions were in defer- 
ence to what the editors thought the public would de- 
mand, and some to what they themselves demanded. The 
editor's fight for subscribers compelled him to preserve 
the orthodoxy of his authors, but the author's desire for 
publication need not have compelled him to yield to the 
editor's exactions in matters of taste. In America, he j 
did so in the earlier magazines because he knew the editor | 
to be his superior; and when the time arrived that this j 
was no longer the case, the editorial hab^it had been con- 
tracted. But aside from this, the American editor seems 
to have felt from the beginning that he belonged to a 
more responsible class than the author, and continued, 
perhaps unaware, the habit of treating him as " a rogue 
and a vagabond " who should be grateful for slipping into 
good society, even when the position had become some- 
what reversed and the author was the more socially re- 
sponsible person of the two. 

In the history of our magazines one is struck with the 
continuous arrogance of the editorial attitude, not only 
in matters of opinion and taste but in property rights. 
It was not merely that even the most scrupulous editors 
made changes and asked permission after the articles had 
appeared in print. But it seems to have been taken for 
granted that the author voluntarily severed all connection 


with his manuscript when he sent it to the office. If re- 
jected, it was not returned or it was carved up for the 
Editor's Table in anonymous sHces; if accepted, the 
author need not be notified or paid or thanked, unless he 
were important enough to deserve the unusual recogni- 
tion. He had committed his offspring to a Charity 
School, and should be thankful if it received lodging and 
was clad in the uniform of the concern ; or he had handed 
it over to a Finishing Institution where its deportment 
was so corrected or its features so remoulded that " to 
recognise one's own child again " on its reappearance 
was considered flattering to the father. " The coolness 
with which an editor would graciously accept an article 
and print it without a word of thanks or a cent of pay- 
ment," writes Congdon, " was even then irritating, though 
we did not expect anything else. Now it would be re- 
garded as a piece of swindHng." Congdon was writing 
his reminiscences in 1880, yet at that time there were 
plenty of lesser magazines still pursuing the tradition of 
an editor's right to a submitted manuscript. Even now 
there is no law against arbitrary editorial changes, and 
some authors who have recognised their offspring with 
indignation have appealed to the courts in vain. Notions 
of literary property have now, it is true, become less con- 
fused, and in some magazines even alteration in copy has 
come to be regarded the dishonesty and impertinence it 
really is. But this last seignorial right is dying hard. 
And chiefly it would seem to be on account of the spirit- 
lessness of authors of which Reade speaks. Sufferance 
had too long been the badge of all their tribe and they had 
too often informed the editor that it would be considered 
a favour to print. " The favour of giving room and 
circulation to a man's ideas," said the Mirror in 1844, '* is 
growing now into a salable commodity — the editor even 
charges rent for his columns instead of hiring a tenant." 
The custom of editorial alterations in America is a 
heritage from the days when an editor's chief business 
was to provide his own material, other material being. 


entirely lacking or being furnished by writers frankly 
inexperienced. To prune and patch whatever manu- 
scripts came in at that unplentiful period was a step 
necessary to the generally anonymous publication, quite 
aside from the editor's own particular tastes and whimsies 
or the policy of the magazine. But apparently editors 
became fastidious just as soon as they could afford to 
be, and began to impose their own notions of perfection 
upon the material of their contributors. Theophilus 
Parsons of the United States Literary Gazette wrote to 
Longfellow in 1824: " I think you will not be offended 
by my sincerity in saying that while all the pieces you 
have sent me would be creditable to any journal, they 
are susceptible of improvement, from alterations calcu- 
lated not to supply deficiencies but to remove imperfec- 
tions." The next month he is writing, obviously in re- 
sponse to a remonstrance, " Some of my alterations please 
me now no better than they please you." Theophilus 
Parsons never demonstrated his right to give directions 
to Longfellow; but Bryant, editor of the New York 
Review, was in a more assured position when he altered 
the poems of R. H. Dana. Yet perhaps the length to 
which he felt himself entitled to go and the fact that he 
published first and then asked permission, may both indi- 
cate how much remained of the editor's notion of his 
prerogative when his earlier necessities no longer existed. 
" You will see in a copy of our magazine which I send 
you that I have changed your crow to a raven. I do 
not know that you will like the metamorphosis but it is 
a change only in the title." Here, because of a pseudo- 
poetic preference for an English word of hallowed usage 
and without even being able to plead metrical considera- 
tions, he converted some homely and accurate observa- 
tions about a crow into a pointless misfit. A little later, 
he Bryantised another of Dana's poems. "As you 
seemed to give me leave to make alterations, I have taken 
the liberty. But I found it impossible to alter two lines 
which would not agree in measure without altering several 


of the neighbouring lines. I have also ventured to make 
some changes where the sentences were continued from 
one couplet to another ; and in other cases where I thought 
the idea not sufficiently brought out, I have taken the 
liberty to simplify it a little. But you will see all the 
mutilations I have made when you receive the journal." 
Many letters of the same nature he wrote to Dana; and 
what was going on in the case of Dana was the fate of all 
the poems he admitted to the New York Review. They 
were all less or more adapted by Bryant from the authors 
who had written them. 

Holmes, who filed his poetry to the last degree before 
it left the workshop and who could not have failed to 
know himself the most careful artisan in America, felt 
particularly aggrieved by the editorial function. He 
wrote to James Freeman Clarke in 1836: "The four 
things were all published in the American Monthly, and 
when I found one of my offspring alterated and mutilated 
in the magazine, I determined not to write any more at 

What care I though the dust is spread 

Around these yellow leaves, 
Or o'er them his sarcastic thread 

Oblivion's insect weaves. 

My pet expression in the two last-quoted lines was 
changed by the New York editor on his own responsi- 
bility into * Or o'er them his corroding thread,' which 
occasioned much indignation on my part and a refusal 
to write until he would promise to keep hands off." He 
was sending a poem to Clarke for his Western magazine, 
and added, " if you print, print correctly." He says he 
was as much harassed by the carelessness of printers and 
proof-readers as he was by the pains of the editorial staff 
to improve his work. On one occasion when he sent a 
poem in his neat precise handwriting, he wrote to the 
editor : " Poems are rarely printed correctly in news- 
papers. This is the reason why so many poets die young. 
Please correct carefully." To Griswold on Graham's he 


wrote with the manuscript : " Do you want my poem ? 
If so, what will you give me for it? And can it be pub- 
lished in your magazine word for word, letter for letter, 
comma for comma?" In later hfe he had no occasion 
to complain of unauthorised alterations, yet he had ap- 
parently no illusions as to the reason for his immunity. 
*' My Dear Young Lady," runs a letter in 1892, " As 
to your literary questions, I do not see how you can help 
yourself if an editor alters your papers, except by be- 
coming so important to him that you make it a condition 
of publishing your articles that they shall not in any 
way be tampered with. I remember writing an article 
for the North American Review many years ago in which 
the editor claimed his editorial right to change things to 
suit himself, and altered just one word, — for the worse. 
I submitted. Long afterwards, when the article was re- 
printed, I altered it back again as it was at first. I be- 
Heve editors do claim that right until their contributors 
get too important to be interfered with, and I think all 
you would get by complaining would be to find the door 
of that particular periodical closed against you." 

It is amusing to recall that Willis, doubtless the mutila- 
ter of a million manuscripts ( for most of which he paid 
nothing), violently quarrelled with his co-editor Morris 
because the latter had altered his punctuation. Willis, 
who thought that he had emancipated notions of that 
inexact science, wrote once to a printer, " If I insert a 
comma in the middle of a word, do you place it there 
and ask no questions." Both Leland and Lowell took 
themselves very seriously as arbiters of taste. Said 
Leland in 1857 in a letter to Griswold, the former occu- 
pant of his editorial chair on Graham's: " I have found 
out that by editing such an affair conscientiously and 
properly, one can do a great deal toward improving the 
tone and quality of popular writing — that a literary 
editor can in fact do as much as several school masters, 
so far as teaching the art of writing is concerned. It is 
really a matter of regret to see that so many editors seem 


to care so little for this, or in fact for anything but them- 
selves." In 1858, Lowell wrote to Norton about editing 
the Atlantic: " I cannot stand the worry of it much 
longer without a lieutenant. To have questions of style, 
grammar, and punctuation in other people's articles to 
decide, while I want all my concentration for what I am 
writing myself — to have added to this, personal appeals 
from ill-mannered correspondents whose articles have 
been declined, to attend to — to sit at work sometimes 
fifteen hours a day, as I have done lately — makes me 
very nervous, takes away my pluck, compels my neglect- 
ing my friends, and induces the old fits of blues. To be 
editor is almost as bad as being President." He had 
written to Higginson concerning the insertion of one 
word, an insertion which he thought would be more 
diplomatic, " I never allow any personal notions of mine 
to interfere, except in cases of obvious obscurity, bad 
taste, or bad grammar." He thought he was adhering 
to the same ideals when he came to edit the North Ameri- 
can, but in 1866 he was writing to Stedman: " We do 
not ask that our contributors should always agree with us 
— except in politics ; of course, there, the Review must be 
consistent. But otherwise anybody who has ideas is 
thrice welcome." Stedman must have been amused when 
some months later he wrote about this same article : " I 
shall take the liberty to make a verbal change here and 
there, such as I am sure you would agree to could we 
talk the matter over. I think, for example, you speak 
rather too well of young Lytton, whom I regard both as 
an impostor and as an antinomian heretic. Swinburne 
I must modify a little, as you will see, to make the Rcviezv 
consistent with itself. But you need not be afraid of not 
knowing your own child again." Lowell would have 
been genuinely surprised to hear that a later generation 
would regard such alterations, " to make the Review con- 
sistent with itself " and with Lowell, not only as de- 
priving personal opinions of all value and interest, but as 


The Atlantic sanctum in its authoritative days always 
wielded a busy blue pencil. Higginson says that at a 
period when he used to spend days and weeks on single 
sentences, he would find his careful composition hashed 
by the editor. " I wish to be understood as giving a 
suppressed but audible growl/' he wrote to Underwood, 
" at the chopping knife which made minced meat of my 
sentences. It is something new. I don't think I tend 
to such very long sentences ; and it isn't pleasant to think 
that they belong to such a low order of organisation that 
they can be chopped in the middle and each half wriggle 
away independently." Higginson polished his prose as 
assiduously as Holmes did his verse ; and the corrections 
made in his manuscript were prescribed merely by a dif- 
ference of taste and not by any considerations of nicety 
and clarity, as was the case with the shaggy and crude 
sentences of Mrs. Stowe. These, Mr. Howells said, had 
almost an appalling correctness by the time he had finished 
with them. And, too, Mrs. Stowe was quite conscious 
of the raw chunks in which her careless writing was pro- 
jected and never minded any amount of carving to make 
them presentable, being anxious only about the ideas and 
the emotion which she felt herself to be merely a mouth- 
piece for. Fields emphatically believed that an editor 
should be a refining force. Some correspondence with 
Stedman on the subject of the latter' s most famous poem 
is interesting. Fields wrote to Stedman : " Bravo ! Pan 
in Wall Street couldn't be better. In the line, * Though 
pants he wore of mongrel hue,' I hope you will substitute 
the word trousers — pants being a word below the rank 
of so excellent a piece." Stedman answered Fields: 
" Pants is an American vulgarism and no mistake — but 
you are a poet yourself, and if you'll just try to alter 
that stanza with anything else to preserve the effect, 
you'll appreciate the exigencies of the case. Pants may 
be tolerated when you recollect that Pan is in a Yankee 
street and guise, and observed by a Yankee — but choose 
according to your judgment (which I most sincerely re- 


spect)." Fields had his way. Stedman may well have 
remembered the episode when he wrote in 1874 to 
Howells, then the editor of the Atlantic: " You know 
I can write correct, finished, aesthetic sonnets and qua- 
trains — can do it every day, but am tired of such work. 
Don't you think we bookmen, as editors, might profit by 
Browning's line, * He o'er-refines — the scholar's fault ' ? 
I don't believe that either you or I would have printed 
The Heathen Chinee, coming from an unknown author; 
it is so very different from the polished level of Miss 
Hunt, Mrs. Thaxter etc. Yet it would have been a 
good thing to print." 

If Stedman's employment of " pants " in a poem grated 
on the fastidiousness of Fields, one may imagine the long 
row-royal of the robust Mark Twain with his editors. 
To escape explosion he once let off steam in a letter which 
he wrote but did not send. Through the corrections, 
paragraph by paragraph, he went. " Do you think that 
you have added just the right smear of polish to the 
closing clause of the sentence? Plain clarity is better 
than ornate obscurity. I have not concerned myself 
about feelings, but only about stating the facts. Else- 
where I have said several uncourteous things, but you 
have been so busy editing commas and semi-colons that 
you overlooked them and failed to get scared at them. 
It is discouraging to try to penetrate a mind like yours. 
You ought to get it out and dance on it. That would 
take some of the rigidity out of it. And you ought to 
use it sometimes ; that would help. If you had done this 
every now and then along through life, it would not have 
petrified. You really must get your mind out and have 
it repaired; you see for yourself that it is all caked to- 
gether. * Breaking a lance ' is a knightly and sumptuous 
phrase, and I honour it for its hoary age and for the 
faithful service it has done in the prize composition of the 
school-girl, but I have ceased from employing it since I 
got my puberty, and must solemnly object to fathering 
it here." Some time afterwards Mr. S. S. McClure had 


a project to start a magazine with Mark Twain as editor. 
In a letter setting forth his determination that he would 
not have anything to do with a magazine that intended 
to be comic, he added : " I shall write for this magazine 
every time the spirit moves me ; but I look for my largest 
entertainment in editing. I have been edited by all kinds 
of people for more than thirty-eight years; there has 
always been somebody in authority over my manuscript 
and privileged to improve it; this has fatigued me a 
good deal, and I have often longed to move up from the 
dock to the bench and rest myself and fatigue others. My 
opportunity has come, but I hope I shall not abuse it 
overmuch. I mean to do my best to make a good maga- 
zine; I mean to do my whole duty and not shirk any 
part of it. There are plenty of distinguished artists, 
novelists, poets, story-tellers, philosophers, scientists, ex- 
plorers, fighters, hunters, followers of the sea and seekers 
of adventure; and with these to do the hard and valuable 
part of the work with the pen and the pencil, it will be a 
comfort and joy to me to walk the quarter-deck and 

Mark's enthusiasm fizzled out entirely when he found 
that as well as sitting in judgment upon the work of 
others he was expected to sit at an editorial desk and 
superintend all the practical details of getting out a 
magazine. And this brings us to another reason for 
editorial alterations. 

The architectural exactions of magazines, with their 
practical problem of space, have necessarily made editors 
pragmatists. The last-moment requirements of make-up 
have often been less flexible than the conscience called 
upon to meet them. Into the Procrustes bed of the 
available inches all articles must be fitted. Doubtless 
they have been lopped oftener than lengthened, but 
authors have complained of filling as well as of filing. 
A contemporary magazine which eschews verse has an 
inalterable law that an article must be made to end at 
the bottom of the page. The serviceability of verse to 


patch a wall to expel the winter's flaw was early recog- 
nised. Possibly that was the reason, as much as the 
equally prudent humanitarian one, why the early maga- 
zines so soon gave up the habit of printing all their verse 
in a department at the end. In the matter of stanzas 
The Lord High Executioner appears often to have made 
the punishment fit the crime, even to the extent of boiling 
in oil. Not all poets were treated with the consideration 
given to Stedman when Fields wrote him, " I will print 
your poem so soon as I find a niche for it." The eternal 
predicament which makes the editor a space-server found 
a unique remonstrant in the person of John Hay ; yet novel 
as the situation was, the author's accusation of unintelli- 
gent condensation was the customary one. For four 
years the Century had been printing the Hay-Nicolay 
Lincoln. Most people thought the magazine had been 
more than generous in allotting space for the series of 
forty articles; and Hay heartily agreed with them, al- 
though it utilised only a third of the mammoth work. 
" I see," he wrote, " the Century folks have whacked 
about all the life out of the November instalment. But I 
approve every excision large or small that brings us nearer 
the end. My complaint is that they are printing too 
much. As it is, they cut out about every third para- 
graph, • destroying the significance of a chapter without 
gaining materially in space. I avoid calling there when 
I go to New York, as our interviews are invariably dis- 

In his autobiography Mr. S. S. McClure, while he 
takes on the one hand a very temperate position about 
editorial infallibility, shows on the other an unshaken 
confidence in the editor's right to insist upon changes. 
Professional readers for magazines, he says, become in 
time the victims of their own taste and successes, and the 
absolutely open mind is rare with them. Yet he appar- 
ently refused to allow other editors to consult the exigen- 
cies of space — admittedly an impersonal necessity con- 
fronting an editor — while he himself was exercising his 


editorial function in a matter of opinion. " I told Steven- 
son I would publish The Black Arrow (for the News- 
paper Syndicate) if he would let me omit the first five 
chapters. He readily consented to this. Like all writers 
of the first rank, he was perfectly amiable about changes, 
and was not handicapped by the superstition that his 
words were sacrosanct. I never knew a really great 
writer who cherished his phrases or was afraid of losing 
a few of them. First-rate men always have plenty more. 
Only writers of inferior talent and meagre equipment feel 
they are lowering the flag if they consent to any changes 
in their manuscript." Thus does Mr. McClure astutely 
muzzle all barkers. Object to my changes, says he, and 
confess yourself second-rate. Yet it is interesting to 
note that if the editors accepting his syndicate service 
had had their way, every one of the first twelve Sherlock 
Holmes stories would have been trimmed — especially 
as it was not until the entire series had been published 
that the stories really caught on with the public. 

As the century drew to a close, entered another disturb- 
ing element. With the exploitation of advertising, the 
magazine author's path grew more straightened still. 
This phase of the editorial function is ticklish in the ex- 
treme and one may not rashly venture upon it, either 
with wise saws or with modern instances. Of these lat- 
ter they are plenty, and some that are more amazing than 
fiction; but the prudent historian does not walk into a 

Even theoretically, the problem is acutely complicated. 
Certainly, it is too much to ask of breakable bones that 
an editor deliberately saw off the bough he is sitting on. 
His once haunting fear of the man in the Middle West 
has been largely supplanted by his fear of the man in the 
back-districts of his own periodical. As long as editor 
and advertiser are agreed on basic principles, it is plain 
sailing. There shall be no free advertising in the literary 
pages, and nothing paid for at space rates in the advertis- 
ing columns ought to be attacked in the literary ones, 


either explicitly or by implication. These two would 
seem to constitute a simple and definite rule of thumb; 
but unfortunately the thumbs are all fingers. The rub 
lies in the implications and here is infinite room for mis- 
chief. And here the scribe resolutely shuts up his 
drawer of facts and launches boldly upon frank extrava- 

Let us imagine that Dr. X. has discovered that tuber- 
culosis is spread by insanitary handkerchiefs and longs 
to inform an afflicted world of his incalculable discovery 
by means of its periodical of widest circulation. The 
editor agrees with him and scents a double edition. 
" Publish ! " cry the handkerchief-makers elate. " It 
means more handkerchiefs ! " But hold, the doctor wishes 
to substitute thin sheets of sulphuretted asbestos. " Pub- 
lish and we withdraw our advertisement ! " they chorus 
as one man. Meanwhile, all the advertising sanatoria 
have prepared a protest. *' The linen handkerchief is the 
symbol of civilisation itself! What will become of the 
laundresses? How dare the editor gratuitously exploit 
the asbestos industry? Let him recollect that there are 
a hundred advertising sanatoria to one asbestos plant, 
and he will see that even a quadrupled edition will not 
repay him for the loss of their insertions year in and 
year out ! " Meanwhile, too, a council is instantly called 
by the Cotton Planters Association. A silly doctor, it 
seems, thinks he has discovered that handkerchiefs are 
responsible for the spread of tuberculosis and the nosey 
magazines will soon be wanting to feature him.. If there 
are to be no linen handkerchiefs, what will become of 
the broad cotton-fields of the South! He must be kept 
from disseminating his perfectly fallacious theories. 
But now the Asbestos Trust, formed over night at the 
prospect of a limitless market, waits upon the editor — 
reinforced by the Sulphur Trust, which has also grasped 
the fact that sulphur will now enter a million homes 
denied to it before. Together they demand that the edi- 
tor give widest publicity to a discovery so priceless to 


humanity, or they will back a competing periodical on a 
larger scale than ever before attempted and run him out 
of business. Even Mark Twain might be moved to pity 
by the predicament of the poor editor. 

But positive implications are not the only sources of 
trouble; there are negative implications also. The sensi- 
tiveness of advertisers to all literature but their own is 
daily increasing. It has occasioned many delicate dis- 
criminations, and will occasion many more. (Here, too, 
the prudent historian must discard his facts and resort to 
extravaganza.) Paste-um (Please observe, this is a fic- 
titious name — there really is no such article ! ) may pro- 
claim in the most pointed terms the injuriousness of 
coffee, yet no writer may confess to one heart-beat the 
less through indulgence in the cup that cheers but ener- 
vates, without protest from coffee firms. No heroine 
may proudly voice the superiority of hot-water heating 
over steam, as do the ladies in the advertising pages, or 
shyly confide to her future lord that she will fry with 
clean cotton-seed oil instead of that nasty lard. This 
is all a part of that mysterious moral discrimination ex- 
hibited in wider realms, — by which, for instance, ob- 
scenities in prose become sanctities in verse, or things 
winked at in musical shows become blinked at in prob- 
lem plays, or the ubiquitous union-suits of Commerce 
become Comstocked in art. But the discrimination 
though inexplicable is at least definite, and if one may 
not know what is what, he may at least memorise the 
where and when. Since psychology has become the hand- 
maiden of business, however, advertisers are ceasing to 
be content to move in the old rut of simple prohibitions 
in the literary pages of magazines. An ounce of free 
suggestion is now seen to outweigh a pound of precept 
at space rates. Judged from a broad viewpoint, the re- 
fusal of heroines of high-class fiction to chew gum is 
damaging to the vested interests of some of our most 
prodigal advertisers ; and authors must not be allowed to 
restrict the healthful habit to sales-ladies and office-boys. 


Why should not the thousand cereal-foods unite in a 
common demand that no hero eat eggs for breakfast? — 
the hen does not advertise. All this is only a fancy pic- 
ture — but if it be not now, yet it will come ; the readiness 
is all. 

This may, however, be for the best in the long run. 
As advertisers have made our numerous magazines pos- 
sible, it may perhaps yet be owing to their sensitiveness 
and their widening vision that we shall reach final edi- 
torial emancipation from the fetich of editorial responsi- 
bility. Editors will find it physically impossible to figure 
out for themselves the manifold chances in each manu- 
script for possible disturbance to the hair-trigger mecha- 
nism of commerce, and after a time they will find it equally 
impossible to have each manuscript viseed by their entire 
advertising constituency and decide between the con- 
flicting claims. Perhaps advertising, a Moses unaware, 
will yet lead out of the land of bondage the magazine 
which has done so much to promote. It is well to take 
a hopeful view. For this retrospect into the history of 
editorial responsibility must have demonstrated how 
firmly fixed is the notion in the editorial mind. Not 
until the editor is rigidly edited by the advertiser does 
it seem that it can be uprooted. 

What with alterations of editors for aesthetic reasons, 
for moral reasons, for their own commercial reasons, and 
for the commercial reasons of advertisers, the periodical 
writers of the nineteenth century have continuously quav- 
ered one song, " Change and decay in all around I see," 
and unanimously longed for the editor that changed not. 



The end of a century is undoubtedly society's most self- 
conscious period. (Just watch next time and see if there 
is not something about it that goes to the head!) It is 
to movements what New Year's Day preceded by Watch 
Night used to be to good Methodists — a time for retro- 
spect, for self-searching, and for good resolutions. One 
looks before and after and pines for what is not. 
Whether a new broom sweeps clean or not depends upon 
the sweeper, but certainly it will always whisk up more 
dust. Then, too, the periodic discussion arising at this 
date as to just when the century ends only prolongs the 
crisis; it does not dissipate the excitement it produces. 
Just as some little boys take a month in getting ready for 
Christmas and a month in recovering from it, so society 
has a period of shake-up and shake-down in the closing 
decade of the old and the opening decade of the new 
century. It is perhaps fortunate that it comes no oftener 
than once in a hundred years. 

So it proved in the history of American magazines. 
In this period two hundred and fifty thousand regular 
monthly buyers of periodicals became two millions, and 
the reader of one magazine became the devoted devourer 
of half a dozen and more. We are not, however, so 
much concerned with his New Year resolutions as with the 
various factors which caused him to make them. Chief 
of all (how horrid to find it was nothing more spiritual !) 
was their new cheapness. The honour for bringing this 
about was afterwards hotly contested, and Mr. Walker 
of the Cosmopolitan always maintained that his plans 



were betrayed by a printer (as Benjamin Franklin claimed 
his had been with the first magazine) to Mr. McClure 
and to Mr. Munsey. Thus the record reads at any rate : 
McCltire's Magazine appeared May 28, 1893, at fifteen 
cents a copy; the Cosmopolitan in July at twelve and a 
half; Munsey's in September at ten cents. As of these 
three, Mr. Frank A. Munsey was first in the publishing 
field, let us take his story up first. Here is an abstract 
of it, as he delivered it in a speech at a dinner given to 
his staff in 1907, the twenty-fifth anniversary of his 
entrance into the magazine world. 

The Argosy, a juvenile weekly, began life in December, 1S82. 
I had four thousand dollars in prospect and forty dollars in 
cash; one room for an office, an eight-dollar table, two wooden 
chairs, and an ink-bottle. My plans had all gone wrong, and I 
was lucky to find, at last, a publisher who agreed to bring it out 
and retain me as editor and manager. It failed in five months. 
I borrowed three hundred dollars; and as editor, advertising 
manager, office-boy, and chief contributor, I began to try to 
pump life into it. It had made its regular appearance for some 
years before I could procure any credit with which to advertise. 
Then I spent in five months ninety-five thousand dollars in ad- 
vertising it. All the while writing at midnight my six thou- 
sand words a week. Success came, or rather what I thought 
was success until I found out my mistake ; but beyond a certain 
point I could not lift the circulation. I assumed that the trou- 
ble was with a juvenile publication ; and decided to demonstrate 
it by getting into the adult class. Consequently I started, early 
in 1889, Mimsey's Weekly, the predecessor of the magazine. It 
lasted two and a half years and lost over one hundred thousand 
dollars. I made up my mind that a weekly was " a dead cock 
in the pit." There are a few successes to-day, but I think they 
are accounted for by the activity and fertility of the business 
office rather than by a genuine and spontaneous circulation. 
The weekly paper, once so great a feature in American publish- 
ing business, began to decline with the incoming of the big 
Sunday newspaper; where there is no Sunday newspaper in 
Europe, the weekly still thrives. After many experiments with 
the make-up of the Argosy, I had concluded that nothing would 
save it and that it must be moulded on other lines. I have 
never thought it terrible to change a publication as often as con- 
ditions warranted, or to make the change as radical as I pleased. 
I did not know yet what to do with the Argosy, but in 1891 
I changed Munsey's Weekly into Munsey's Magazine. The 


< ■/ / \ 

change of a worthless weekly into a monthly may not seem 
much, but it was this change which made the magazine the 
leading factor in modern publishing. I launched it at twenty- 
five cents and at this price ran it for two years, while I studied 
the problem why out of eighty millions of people there were 
not over two hundred and fifty thousand magazine buyers. Was 
the Sunday paper crushing the life out of the monthlies as well 
as the weeklies? I began to analyse the magazines. They 
seemed made for ansemics and their editors editing fdr them- 
selves and not for their subscribers. Living in an artificial 
literary world, they got out publications which wofuUy lacked 
human interest. On the other hand, the Sunday newspapers 
appealed to everybody; and their price was five cents against 
five and seven times that for the magazines. The several at- 
tempts to float cheaper ones had been only weak copies of the 
old kind. I became convinced that both the price and the 
magazines were wrong for a wide circulation. If a magazine 
should be published at tein cents, and made light, bright, and 
timely, it might be a different story. I worked out my idea 
and took it to the American News Company. They did not 
relish it, said the scheme did not leave them a sufficient margin 
of profit for handling it. The price they finally offered was so 
low it would have throttled me. No one had ever succeeded in 
circulating a magazine over their heads, but I decided to try it. 
I would deal directly with the newsdealers of the country. No 
human being except myself believed I could win out. I had no 
money and men with plenty of it had failed. But I thought 
that it wasn't money "which would win the fight, but the idea 
of giving the people what they wanted and giving it to them 
at the right price. God only knows how I managed it ; I don't. 
I sent out ten thousand circulars to newsdealers telling them of 
the change to ten cents and telling them that they could not get 
the magazine through the News Company. I asked them to 
send their orders direct to me. I hoped and expected there 
would be orders. None came. Then the American News Com- 
pany called on me and held out the olive branch. When I had 
been negotiating with them, I had told them they could have 
the magazine at six and a half cents; but when they had kept 
silence for three weeks, I advanced the price to seven. What 
had caused them to call upon me was this new price and some- 
thing I never suspected. They had received orders from the 
whole ten thousand dealers ! I had an edition of twenty thou- 
sand and no visible means of distributing it, but I refused the 
price they now offered. They must come to my terms. As the 
day of issue swept nearer, my tension increased to the break- 
ing-point. But that issue was distributed in ten days, and I 
doubled it before the month was up ! In the issue I had begun 


those "plain talks to the people," now so customary; and I 
had something to talk about. Six months afterwards, I changed 
the Argosy to an adult magazine — its fifth change in eleven 
years. But it had one more change to undergo. In 1896 it 
became an all-fiction magazine, a type which it created and 
which has since become one of the most successful in the field. 
It became the second largest magazine in the world in point of 
circulation and of earning power. Munsey's is the first (1907). 
My six magazines — or rather seven, as one is issued in two 
sections — are all the result of my analysis of the situation in 
1893. If there has been any luck about it, I do not know where 
it comes in. It was a fight all along the line. 

Fortunate, too, is the historian in having, to fall back 
upon, Mr. S. S. McClure's own account of his activities. 
These summarise a period of expansion and revolution 
which makes, by contrast, the mild innovation of the 
journals of Opinion seem but the first faint stirrings of 
life and all previous circulations but premonitory ripples 
of a great flood. 

For three summers, Mr. McClure says in his auto- 
biography, he peddled coffee-pots in the Middle West, 
and gained thereby a very close acquaintance with the 
people of the small towns and the farming communi- 
ties — the people who afterwards bought McClure's 
Magazine. All these people, he found, were interested 
in exactly the same things or the same kind of things 
that interested him. Thus, in after years, he had little 
sympathy with the distinction made by some editors — 
" This or that was very good, but it wouldn't interest 
the people of the Middle West or of the small towns." 
These, like the people of New York or Boston, were in- 
terested in whatever was interesting; and as he felt him- 
self to be a fairly representative Middle-Westerner, they 
would be interested in whatever interested him. His 
associate-editor, Mr. John Phillips, and his business- 
manager had both been on a college paper with him in 
Illinois ; and thus it may be admitted that the Ohio Valley 
would not regard the new magazine as an exotic. 

The Century he thought was typographically far and 
away the best American periodical, and when he came to 


get out the Wheelman for the Pope Manufacturing Com- 
pany, it much resembled a thinner edition of his ideal. 
After a while Colonel Pope decided to buy the Outing 
and merge his periodical into it, and Mr. McClure thought 
the combination wouldn't work very well for him. He 
left and went into the Century office, then the uttermost 
limit of his ambition. But here one day he had a higher 
vision. A newspaper syndicate service was in the air 
at the time — indeed, the New York Sun had already 
made a tentative experiment in that direction — and Mr. 
McClure worked out a plan for one. When he started 
to put it into operation, he found the editors as cool about 
the project as the authors had been warm. Finally, 
however, he persuaded several important newspapers to 
take the service, of stories and articles^ at eight dollars 
a week. For a long time after he inaugurated it, his 
actual capital was the money he owed authors. The older 
editors regarded the project with some anxiety — they 
all believed that there would never be any new magazines 
in the world, that Harper's and Century and the Atlantic 
would consume all the stories that would ever be written 
in America, and consequently there would not be enough 
to go around if he went on using them up in his syndicate. 
It was about eight years after he had founded the busi- 
ness that he began seriously to consider founding a maga- 
zine. The success of the Ladies' Home Journal at ten 
cents made him think a cheap popular magazine might 
thrive ; and the new development of photo-engraving had 
*^just made such a scheme feasible. The impregnability 
of the older magazines was largely due to the costliness 
of wood-engraving. Only an established publication with 
a large working capital could afford illustrations made 
by that process. The Century, when he was working 
for it, used to spend something like five thousand dollars 
a month on its engraving alone. Not only was the new 
process vastly cheaper but it enabled a publisher to make 
pictures directly from photographs which were cheap, 
instead of drawings which were expensive. 


Early in 1892, Mr. McClure continues, he and Mr. 
Phillips began active plans to launch a new fifteen cent 
monthly. After eight years of the hardest kind of work 
in the syndicate business, he was only $2,800 ahead; 
important rivals had appeared, and the only practical 
expansion v^as in the direction of a magazine. Their en- 
tire capital was $7,300. But in place of capital, they 
had a great fund of material to draw from. The maga- 
zine at first was to be made entirely of reprints of the 
most successful stories and articles that had been used in 
the Syndicate, and for a year or two it would have to live 
on what profits the Syndicate afforded. 

The outlook was not promising, but it proved worse 
than he feared. For just before the first number came 
the great panic. They could collect no money from the 
newspapers for their service ; and in the general cut-down 
of running expenses everywhere, a luxury like stories and 
articles was one of the first things the newspapers dis- 
pensed with. Of the twenty thousand copies printed for 
the first number, twelve thousand were returned to them. 
The eight thousand they sold netted them only $600, 
and the paper and printing had cost thousands. Then the 
next month another woe trod upon" the heels of the first. 
The Cosmopolitan cut to twelve and a half cents, two and 
a half under McC I lire's. They had reckoned that it 
might be a year before another cheap magazine came into 
the field. Nevertheless, though always on the edge of 
failure, they got through the hard winter somehow. The 
next summer they were losing a thousand a month. By 
cutting the text from niney-six to eighty-eight pages and 
reducing the size of the illustrations, they reduced the loss 
somewhat ; but all the while they were slipping back. 

In this crisis Conan Doyle, Miss Ida Tarbell, and Na- 
poleon tided them over. The first volunteered to lend 
them some money, and the second wrote a life of the third. 
The year 1894 was a Napoleon year; the Century had 
announced Professor Sloan's Life of Napoleon; the 
Cosmopolitan soon joined the combat; and Mr. McClure 


commissioned Miss Tarbell overnight to run down to 
Washington and whip up a biography to go with a re- 
markable collection of portraits he had found there. Miss 
Tarbell had just written, in Paris, her careful studies of 
the life of Madame Roland, and knew the period. The 
Middle West proved more interested in the stop-gap than 
in the Century's Life which had been some years in mak- 
ing ; and it doubled the circulation of McClnre's within a 
few months. But Miss Tarbell as a circulation-maker 
was only just flexing her capable fingers. Quite as 
casually and quickly, Mr. McClure decided that some new 
portraits she had found of Lincoln needed a frame- 
work, and she winnowed the interested Middle West for 
anecdotal material. Napoleon had brought their sub- 
scribers from forty to eighty thousand ; Lincoln increased 
them from one hundred and twenty in August, 1895, 
to two hundred and fifty in December. Thus in thirty 
months they reached a circulation in excess of the Cen- 
tury, Harper's, and Scrihner's; and soon they were to be 
greater than all three combined. The only fly in their 
ointment was the old advertising rate. With their in- 
creased circulation, they were losing four thousand dollars 
a month. Peace hath its defeats the same as war ! But 
in 1896 they had changed all that, and were clearing five 
thousand a month. 

Reviewing the earlier history of the magazine, Mr. 

r McClure thinks that the intimate and human note which 

/ - went straight to the Middle West heart was struck in the 

/ very first number. The Real Conversations — in which 

j distinguished persons interviewed distinguished persons 

— and the Human Documents — in which the portraits of 

V the (same proceeded by consecutive stages from the cradle 

^--to the grave — converted, for the Middle West, mere 

names into near neighbours. Their popular science 

articles, he thinks, were of a more serious nature than 

those in any preceding magazine. The wide acquaintance 

with writers and their possibilities which the Syndicate 

had given him seemed to him his chief asset and his real 


capital ; furthermore, he could, with syndicate and maga- 
zine combined, tempt them with a wider pubHcity than 
they had ever received before. His industry was untir- 
ing; for a series of portraits of Bismarck he ran over to 
Germany. As boundless was his fertility in devising new 
schemes to conduct personally to Middle Western farm- 
yards remote aristocrats. (Holmes wrote to Mrs. Stuart 
Phelps Ward in 1893 that he would be delighted to dis- 
cuss " Time and Eternity " with her and her husband as 
suggested, but as to saying anything on those subjects 
to be reported, he would as soon send a piece of his spinal 
marrow to those omnivorous editors. *' So you see, I 
am quite obstinate — not to be lured or Mac-lured.") 
As for stories, he had, in addition to Conan Doyle, cap- 
tured Kipling and Anthony Hope also. To discover the 
value of all three, one might not, perhaps, need to go so 
far as to sell coffee-pots in the Middle West, yet Mr. 
McClure says that Harper's had refused every tale in the 
four early books of Kipling, that it took him a year in 
the Syndicate to gain recognition for Conan Doyle, and 
that no American editor had thought enough of Hope to 
bring him across the \vater. 

The special character of the American cheap magazine 
as we now know it — wrote that keen and reflective Eng- 
lish observer, Mr. William Archer, in 1910 — is mainly 
due to one man, Mr. S. S. McClure. He invented and 
developed the particular type. The style of article which 
has made its fame is a richly documented, soberly worded 
study in contemporary history, concentrating into ten or 
twelve pages matter which could much more easily be ex- 
panded into a book ten or twelve times as long. Its 
method is to present, without sensationalism or exaggera- 
tion, facts skilfully marshalled and sternly compressed, 
and let them speak for themselves. Here is Mr. Mc- 
Clure's account of the inception and evolution of the type 

About 1897 the talk about trusts had become important and 
the common people took a threatening attitude toward them — 
and without much knowledge. We decided that the way to 


handle the trust question was not by taking the matter up ab- 
stractly, but to take one trust and to give its history, its effects, 
and its tendencies. The mother of trusts was the Standard Oil. 
Miss Tarbell had lived for yeaj;s in the heart of the oil region, 
and she undertook to prepare some articles on its history. 
When they heard of our project, Mr. H. H. Rogers of the 
Standard Oil sent us word through his friend Mark Twain that 
they would gladly help us in securing material. Miss Tarbell 
spent nearly three years on the work before the first chapter 
of it was printed. The first important result of the articles was 
the nation-wide realisation that the railroad rebate was the 
great weapon of the Standard Oil. Simultaneously began the 
articles of Mr. Steffens on municipal misgovernment. We gave 
him a roving commission, and he visited the cities. What he 
found made me begin an investigation which proved that life 
and property in the United States were less secure than in 
other countries. I went on trying to arouse public opinion. 
StefTens's work dealing with the corruption of State and city 
politics was a feature of the magazine for three or four years. 
His articles were the first accurate studies of this nature that 
had then appeared in an American magazine. To secure the 
accuracy which alone makes such studies of value, I had to 
invent a new method in magazine journalism. The fundamen- 
tal weakness of modern journalism was that the highly spe- 
cialised activities of civilisation were very generally reported 
by uninformed men, and what experts had to say was seldom 
interesting. I decided to pay my writers for their study rather 
than for their copy — to put them on a salary and let them 
master their subjects before they wrote about them. The prepa- 
ration of the fifteen articles of the Standard Oil series took five 
years ; they were produced at the rate of three a year, and each 
one cost us two thousand dollars. Of course, the subjects that 
will repay an editor for so expensive a method are few and 

Thus the origin of what was later called the muck-raking 
movement came from no formulated plan to attack existing in- 
stitutions, but from wishing to take up with accuracy and thor- 
oughness some of the problem.s that were beginning to interest 
people. The method of dealing with public questions which 
distinguished McClure's was developed gradually. My desire 
to handle such questions came largely, I think, from my frequent 
trips abroad. In my many rapid trips for material of all kinds, 
I had noticed certain differences in the attitude of people here 
and abroad regarding public service and the connection between 
business interests and government. I was desirous of finding 
out why, in American cities as distinguished from American 
States, the debasing and debased part of the population should 


have a predominating influence in nominating and electing offi- 
cials. A study of the methods of organising governments in 
England and Germany made me understand the basic causes of 
the inefficiency and corruption of governments in American 
cities. It was the indifference of the average American citizen 
to public questions. 

The spirit which actuated all this may be illustrated by 
a McCliire editorial, January, 1903. *' We did not plan 
it so; it is a coincidence that this number contains three 
arraignments of American character such as should make 
every one of us stop and think. The Shame of Min- 
neapolis, the current chapter of the Standard Oil, Mr. 
Ray Stannard Baker's The Right to Work, it might all 
have been called The American Contempt of Law. Capi- 
talists, workingmen, politicians, citizens — all breaking 
the law or letting it be broken. Who is there left to up- 
hold it? The lawyers? Some of the best are hired for 
that very purpose. The judges? Too many of them so 
respect it that for some error or quibble they restore to 
office or liberty men convicted on evidence overwhelm- 
ingly convincing to common sense. The churches ? We 
know of one, an ancient and wealthy establishment, which 
had to be compelled by a Tammany hold-over health- 
officer to put its tenements in sanitary condition. The 
colleges ? They do not understand. There is no one left 
— none but all of us." Where could one find more mean- 
ing, more control, more passion packed in so few words ! 
It was not to be expected that the novelty of a magazine 
campaign on corruption, both contemporary and specified, 
could intrude itself into a jolted community without op- 
position. As frequently happens in- this amusing world, 
a proposed reform makes strange bed- fellows. The out- 
cry against McClure's delightfully anticipated the pretty 
spectacle, a decade later, of the well-supported matron and 
the well-supported cadet uniting against woman's suf- 
frage. Alike the matronly New York Evening Post and 
Tammany denounced the articles as altogether commer- 
cial. The latter called the campaign a mercenary defama- 
tion of the fair name of our glorious land; the former 


(equally, though more wittily, reminiscent of time-worn 
oratory) called it a fight for God, for country, and for 
circulation. Godkin and Curtis and Dr. Holland in their 
long and admirable agitation in their magazines for Civil 
Service Reform, had really gone the limit of safe and 
well-bred magazine interference with public affairs — 
to attack specific institutions and mention names was to 
drag in the dust the white samite of literary journaHsm! J 
And from the White House came ringing the customary ! 
picturesque epithet, with which its occupant, agog like 
Kipling for the galvanizing word, was in the habit of 
branding all mavericks. McClure's wore proudly its new 
and sanctioned title of Muck Raker, and doubtless joined 
in the chuckle which went up from many earnest-minded 
Americans and observing Englishmen after their first 
gasp of indignation. For the accusation, ungracious as 
it was from one professional reformer to another, was 
conspicuously ungrateful also. It was the public con- 
cience which McChire's had striven so earnestly to arouse 
with an army of shocking facts that eagerly seized upon^ 
the President for leadership. " The historian of the fu- 
ture," wrote Mr. Archer, " may determine how much of 
the ' uplift ' that distinguished the Roosevelt administra- 
tion was due to the influence of the McClure type of 
magazine. It seems to me certain that Mr. McClure 
paved the way for President Roosevelt and potently ^ 
furthered the movements with which his name will al- 
ways be identified." 

Not the least of the services of the McClure type of 
article was its contribution to the final demise of the j 
Young Person. More and more ailing as the old century 
drew to its close, this fragile and exquisite illusion ap- 
parently entered her last stage at the commencement of 
the new. For the family-circle was to be startled with 
ruder accents than the McClure Shame of the Cities or 
the Cosmopolitan Treason of the Senate. Young ladies 
had no sooner heard that politicians and policemen slipped 
into the saloon on the next block than they were ac- 


quainted with the hitherto unsuspected tidings that it had 
a Family Entrance into which other beings shpped. And 
such revolutionary disclosures came not only from the 
militant magazines of which no fine sense of the sanctity 
of the Young Person could be expected, but even from the 
Ladies' Home Journal (Shades of Ruth Ashmore!). 
Made deaf at last by all this noise to the elegant reticence 
becoming a daughter of Mrs. Hale and Godey's Ladies' 
Book, this periodical actually began to give parents in- 
struction upon certain aspects of the education of their 
children! What would dear old Knickerbocker have 
said? He would probably have said that he could have 
told you so ; that he knew what was coming the moment 
a gentlemanly magazine so far forgot itself as to ven- 
tilate opinions. The next step in the inevitable degenera- 
tion would, of course, be the ventilation of vices! No 
opinions at table and no ugly facts before the Young Per- 
son were the cornerstones of Society-as-it-Should-be. 
An amusing anecdote or so with the wine and cigars, and 
later a farce from the French dexterously diluted of 
course for female companions but patent to the cognos- 
centi — you could banish her from the one and as for the 
other, why every Young Person, thank heaven, had an 
innate purity! Indeed, in a sense and with all humility, 
the Young Person, one might say, was the noblest work of 
God and man alike! Man had been His co-worker in 
this perfected being which had eyes but saw not and ears 
but heard not. — So might Knick have said, shaking his 
silvery locks over the departure of all civility from a de- 
generate world. Well, thanks to McClure's, there are no 
longer any Young Persons. Nor will it console any one 
who grieves to reflect that there never were any. It was 
all so charming. Nor will it console them to hear the 
opinion of that obsessed Mr. Archer, admiring Ameri- 
can magazines for a frankness of speech which the Eng- 
lish ones do not possess. '* It is one of the striking fea- 
tures of the magazine of the McChire type that that 
though distinctly * family ' productions so far as fiction 


is concerned, they deal freely with social topics of the 
utmost delicacy, without either frightening their subscrib- 
ers off or achieving any ' success of scandal.' I have 
never seen an article in McClure's or in any magazine of 
its class that was not perfectly fit to be read by any one 
who could conceivably wish to read it." 

There is a reason economic and a reason temperamental, 
Mr. Archer thinks, why there are no such articles in Eng- 
lish magazines. They have neither the circulation nor 
the advertisements which would enable them to pay for 
such social investigation. But the main reason is the 
English law of libel. An American editor said to him 
quite simply, " We carry libels in every number " ; but the 
mildest of the progressive American cheap magazines 
would beget in England a crop of libel-suits. For the 
McClure type eschewed the generalities which preceding 
moralists had exclusively engaged in, and mentioned 
names and cases. The difference between a moralist and 
a muck-raker is a simple but significant one — a muck- 
raker is a moralist who specifies. Mr. Archer remarks 
that the law of libel seems to be as inefficient in America 
as it is over-efficient in England; but the contrast is not 
so much legal as spiritual — an American shrugs his shoul- 
ders at an accusation which in England would blast a 
man's whole career. " We do not wish to spend our 
energy," said Collier's Weekly j " in exploiting facts which 
cannot personally offend a human being " ; yet if you do 
offend and the person has money enough to go to court 
in England, a libel-suit follows. It is not because Ameri- 
cans are more afraid of libel-suits, for judges here as in 
England could exclude the damaging evidence if that were 
our attitude. Partly it is an un-British indifference to our 
reputation and partly it is an equally un-British sense of 
humour. Where everybody is illegally libelling every- 
body else, 'tis folly to be squeamish. For the same rea- 
son, Americans are not even exacting of their pound of 
flesh; what's the sense of being a Shylock when the next 
time the other party may have you on the hip? Mr. 


John Adams Thayer says that once when Everybody's 
made a plate of J. P. Morgan from a steel-engraving, they 
found the copyright law allowed the original publisher to 
claim one dollar a copy for every impression they had 
made. The publisher pranced over to see them, and they 
had a most interesting afternoon. They were liable for 
seven hundred thousand dollars ! 

;x^^he new process of photo-engraving made possible the 
cheap illustrated magazine; but as in a short time many 
cheap magazines were in the market, it by no means ac- 
counted for the enormous circulation of a magazine like 
McClure's. Illustrations that cost one hundred dollars 

^^ud required a month's time could now be had by all of 
them for ten dollars and in one day. " The revolution in 
the art of engraving, not to say its destruction," said the 
Independent editorially in 1895, " is threatening a change 
in the conduct of monthly magazines as well as of news- 
papers. It seems probable, however, that the higher- 
priced magazines will not find it wise to reduce their price 
to the figure of Cosmopolitan and McCliire's. They will 
wish to maintain that higher, purer literary standard 
which succeeds in securing the best but not the most nu- 
merous readers. They cannot change their constituency 
beyond the comparatively cultivated class that appreciates 
them. They cannot therefore enormously increase their 
circulation and so their advertising income by reducing 
their price." To which McClure's replied : *' Less than 
one-seventh of the illustrations in last month's Harper's, 
Century, Scribner's are engraved on wood. There must 
be some merit besides cheapness in a method that is em- 
ployed for more than six-sevenths of the high-priced 
monthlies. On the other hand, we must seek elsewhere 
for a reason for the cheap magazine. Will the editor of 
the Independent tell us where any editor can secure a 
higher, purer literary standard than is maintained by our 
list of writers?" The list that followed included most 
of the names before the English-speaking public. Thus 
it was apparent that the difference in standards was not 


one of height but of kind. Anybody who wished might 
call it purer, anybody who wished might call it less con- 
ventional. It was not a difference of so-called appeal to 
pure culture, for McClure's and Cosmopolitan each had 
a notable art series. It was not even a difference in edi- 
torial enterprise or in careful and costly research. The 
Century, some while before the era of cheap magazines, 
had sent George Kennan and an artist on a two years' 
tour of Siberia to secure the articles on Russian prisons 
and the treatment of political exiles which caused the 
proscription of that magazine from the Czar's dominions. 
The travel articles of Harper's, for which it had long 
been famous, had despatched observers with pen and pen- 
cil to the outposts of the world. The difference between 
the two sets of magazines simply consisted in the fact that 
the majority of the American people thought the McClure( 
type moved closer to contemporary life and was seeking 
not only to illumine but to raise and support. The cheapl 
magazine in itself was no new idea. In 1872 and in con- 
servative Boston a ten cent periodical, American Homes, 
was started and was making a national success when the 
Boston Fire destroyed it utterly. The new tone of in- 
timacy and neighbourly helpfulness which became the 
special characteristic of the cheap magazines and to which i 
even some of the older high-priced periodicals " lowered / 
their dignity " as time went on, seems to have been in-/ 
troduced by that mighty mother of magazines, the City of/ 
Brotherly Love, as she got her third wind. Mrs. Hale ofl 
Godey's had whispered cosily in the female ear, Graham's^ 
had chucked a continent under the chin; but it remained 
for the Ladies* Home Journal to embrace warmly the uni- 
versal world. 

Established in 1883 by Cyrus Curtis, it was edited io\ 
half a dozen years by his wife under the name of Mrs. 
Louisa Knapp. But its astounding success began about 
1890 with the advent of Mr. E. W. Bok. Before this 
time the occupation of an editorial chair had been accom- 
plished without shaking the earth. But the Himalayas 


heard at once that he was the youngest and highest-paid 
editor in America. He immediately began that series of 
novel series which effected the introduction of everybody 
to everybody else and placed the two hemispheres on a 
family basis. He did not go forth to the family-circle 
as the mid-century Harper's had done; he inscribed the 
circle around himself like Richelieu holding the maiden 
Julie. Nobody could step outside of it unless he stepped 
off the planet. Unknown Wives of Well-Known Men, 
Unknown Husbands, Famous Daughters of Famous Men, 
How I Wrote This and Did That — everybody who was 
somebody and everybody who was nobody were soon en- 
gaged in counting his or her pulse-beats to a breathless 
world and to the tune of the periodical's increasing circu- 
lation. One touch of Mr. E. W. Bok had made the whole 
world kin. It seemed as if the possibilities of the genre 
might never be exhausted, and the public might go on 
clamouring forever, or until the Nieces of Absconding 
Bank-Presidents and the Cousins of Royal Governesses 
had satisfied the last urgency for world-fellowship in the 
latest Bok-awakened Madagascar metropolis. The fever 
for fellowship spent itself in time, of course; but the two- 
fold result upon the conduct of magazines seems likely 
to be permanent. Readers expect buttonholing if not 
manhandling, and editors have come out of their cloistered 
retirement. Even editors of some of the older magazines 
which prided themselves on being far from the madding 
crowd no longer desire to remain violets by their mossy 
stones. As for the editors of the new cheap magazines, 
they looked upon Mr. Bok and at once did likewise. Per- 
sonal publicity became the proof of aggressiveness and 
enterprise. It was part of the advertising age. About 
the time when " Charles Frohman Presents " and " Henry 
Savage Proffers " became household phrases conned by 
lisping children from the billboards of America, Mr. 
Munsey was publishing in his own handwriting his own 
opinion of his magazine as a cover-design. A few years 
later even Mr. Alden of Harper's was protesting in the 


North American that the wise editor never sought to 
suppress originality and that if the Middle West wanted 
to call him a matron he didn't mind. As for the militant 
magazines, they vibrated with an electric current sped 
from editor to reader, wherein dynamo called to dynamo 
in no uncertain tones. 

All this was much increased by the vogue of the cult 
magazine, which by its very nature was a personal utter- 
ance. The cult magazines were all slender things, merely 
embodied voices like that pocket prima-donna who was 
once heralded as " Little but Oh My ! '' The run of these 
was a measles with which the face of the whole country 
broke out. The germ-carrier was the project of two 
Harvard youths who published while at Cambridge a slim, 
artistically printed semi-monthly called the Chap Book. 
It was a side-product of the Celtic Revival in England, and 
purposed extending to Victorianised America the new 
wine of the Yellow Book, of Aubrey Beardsley, George 
Moore, and Yeats. In a short while all the early num- 
bers were exhausted, and its deserved success was so great 
that it moved to Chicago where it would have freer air 
and no time-stained institutions standing in the way of its 
sunlight. There it flourished for four years; and as it 
remained a substantial and literary rarity until the last, its 
fortuitous death was universally regretted. So was the 
death of its first joyous offspring, the Lark, which twit- 
tered gleefully at San Francisco from 1895 to 1897. 
This stopped, apparently, because its editors — Les Jeunes 
— wanted to grow up. Some of them afterward did 
grave and valuable things in periodical literature, but 
many of the carols of their light-hearted infancy were 
such melodious madness that the world gladly stopped to 
listen. The Chap Book had numerous progeny, however, 
that would have scorned to be brother to the Lark as 
much as to own so conventional a parentage as the new 
Irish movement in an effete literature. All over the 
country they sprang up, by preference on rocky soil and 
where weeds might choke them. The intention of the 


cult magazine was to be a voice crying in the wilderness. 
There were at least one hundred and sixty-two of them, 
crying to the flinty echoes " Repent ! Repent ! " and liv- 
ing on locusts until their lungs gave out, though from 
want of proper food only. Chief of them was the Philis- 
tine, Printed Every Little While for the Society of the 
Philistines. This was an association of Book Lovers 
and Folks Who Write and Paint. Their object was to 
destroy the phantom of a false dawn, and their settling 
at East Aurora, New York, was thought by many to have 
been the result of exploring the map for a village of 
symbolic name. " In literature he is a Philistine who 
seeks to express his personality in his own way," ran an 
early announcement. " We ask for the widest, freest, 
and fullest liberty for Individuality — that's all." This 
proved both wide and full, and it made free with every 
established Thing. Begun among the earliest of the 
fadazines, it alone continued its voice well into the next 
century. Its voice was robust. Its sub-title was A 
Periodical of Protest, and it is admitted that one can- 
not protest in a whisper. Its editor, Elbert Hubbard, did 
more, though in a field less wide, than Mr. Bok or Mr. 
McClure or Mr. Munsey to deal the editorial tradition of 
reticence a body blow; to develop that arrestingly and 
grippingly personal tone which was becoming character- 
istic of the American sanctum, and to demolish the last 
vestige of the pose which Boston culture had bequeathed 
American letters. The only one of the four who had any 
literary gift, who went on lecture tours, and was the 
fortunate possessor of a disputed personality, his voice 
naturally carried the furthest. A cult is like a protoplasm 
— it subdivides while you are looking at it ; and the Philis' 
tine, like all the other little magazines, died because its 
offspring ate up the available audience. But their earnest 
iconoclasm made many people do some thinking of their 
own, and they were yeasty affairs which leavened a vast 
deal of our inherited stodginess ; they had their day and 
went their way and left some thoughts behind them. In 


/ the history of American thought they are consequently 

/ of considerable importance, but to the history of the 

/ American magazine they contributed chiefly one more 

/ factor in the growth of the personal note at the end of the 


A case very much in point is the gradual emergence of 
Mr. John Brisben Walker of the Cosmopolitan, from a 
private citizen conducting a business enterprise into the 
fierce light that beats upon a throne. Born in Rochester, 
New York, in 1886, a clergyman's child, the Cosmopoli- 
tan, as befitted its parent, was conservative and domestic. 
Consisting largely of translations and with full page re- 
productions of paintings, it had a Children's and a House- 
hold Department which often gave recipes. (Can you 
picture the contemporary Cosmopolitan thus parentally 
engaged, even if fathers of families are not what they 
were ?) In the beginning, it threw in as an extra induce- 
ment to those impervious to the seductions of a home 
missionary at two dollars and a half a year, a Letter and 
Bill File, the cost price of which was only twenty-five 
cents less. But its Cincinnatus days departed in its second 
year when it moved to the metropolis, and its sea-change 
was complete when Mr. Walker coming from the West 
stumbled over it in 1889. Somewhat later it made an 
attempt to recapture its rurality by moving out of town 
again, but dalliance with the great city had forever al- 
tered its ancient Rochestrian ideals. Having put its hand 
to the plough, it turned back to the sidewalk. But this 
was later still, and under the convoy of Mr. Hearst — 
whose energetic and sophisticated personality is, geo- 
graphically considered, perhaps even more remote from 
the magazine's first parent than was that of its second. 
As a matter of statistics, however, it may not be generally 
known that Mr. Hearst is a clergyman twice removed; 
or that the Cosmopolitan once dispensed recipes on the 
best methods of keeping the household sweet and clean. 

But to return to Mr. Walker and the far side of the 
century mile-stone, when the worldly career of the future 


magazine was as yet undreamed. The new editor made 
haste discreetly. He replaced the Household Department 
with one on Social Problems conducted by Edward 
Everett Hale (ominous forecast of the Suffrage move- 
ment!) and the Children's Department with Book Re- 
views by Professor Brander Matthews (fitting symbol 
of the discarded parochial past!); and added the de- 
partments In the World of Arts and Letters, and The 
Progress of Science, conducted by many hands. These 
were all admirably administered, and the last-mentioned 
was particularly serviceable in bringing the readers closer 
to contemporary activities. Contenting itself for a while, 
too, with articles illustrated by portraits and other docu- 
mentary records — like the Lady Riders of Washington 
or The Woman's Press Club of New York — it little by 
little branched out into other illustrative fields. Its early 
reproduction of famous masterpieces happily metamor- 
phosed into richly illustrated articles on Recent Art. 
About the year 1897, the magazine reviewed its ten years 
of life. At its birth, the total number of magazines did 
not greatly exceed the figures of the present edition. The 
rapid increase in circulation had proceeded in equal steps 
with the manifestation of a new attitude of a magazine 
toward its readers. It considered itself a co-operative 
affair in which the chief party was the public. Mr. 
Howells and A. S. Hardy were associate-editors and 
Professor Boyesen and Dr. Hale were regular contribu- 
tors and advisers, but the best associate and adviser was 
the reader himself. As with the other magazines which 
in the last decade of the century reduced their price, this 
endowment of the public with a personality it had never 
before possessed was found to have its editorial exactions. 
Whether the flattered reader required reciprocity or felt 
that at least propriety demanded that he demand it, or 
whether the necessities of the new appeal to social and 
civic consciousness dictated greater directness (for how 
can one receive an actual punch from an invisible shoul- 
der?), or whether it be that heartier fellowship is inherent 


in lowered prices and in the poorer class in general, or 
whether it was all a part of that new world-note of genial 
camaraderie inaugurated by the Ladies' Home Journal 
which caused the public to clamour for the countenances 
of the makers of its shoes and its talcum powders — let 
it be for psychologists to decide. At any rate Mr. 
Walker, like the rest, w^as no longer satisfied to be seen 
through a glass darkly; and, as with the rest, the new 
face-to-faceness was startling to conservatives. The 
vestibule of his magazine became his inner holy of holies 
— whence heart-to-heart confessions of the policies and 
material within doors issued in crisp sermonettes in large 
print. It had become the fashion. But those who had 
followed Mr. Walker's widening vision were not sur- 
prised to see him identify himself with an attempt to 
construct an international language. The founder of the 
magazine had not projected an all-world parish. Mr. 
Walker offered the President of the United States twelve 
thousand dollars to cover the expenses of a commission 
to report on the idea ; and when President Harrison finally 
decided that it did not come within the limits of his juris- 
diction, the Cosmopolitan undertook it single-handed. 

The new attitude of social obligation, taken by Mc- 
Clure's and the Cosmopolitan toward the end of the cen- 
tury, may perhaps be best illustrated by the magnificent 
though abortive attempt of the latter to found a national 
university. In August, 1897, this announcement ap- 
eared : 

For five years we have published the magazine at a reduced 
price, which the publishing world regarded as a step certain to 
result in failure. It was an educational movement of far- 
reaching importance. We have now arrived at another stage 
in the evolution of the magazine. We enlarge our sphere, and 
take in hand the organisation to provide for the intellectual ne- 
cessities of those who seek enlightenment and growth, and yet 
have not had the means for entering the universities. The Cos- 
mopolitan University vail provide a course of studies worked 
out with reference to the real needs of men and women in the 
various walks of life; designed to produce broader minds, and 
give greater fitness for special lines of work, and also to make 


better citizens, better neighbours, and happier men and women. 
At the head of the organisation will be placed an educational 
mind of the first ability. All instruction blanks, examination 
papers, official circulars free. No charge of any kind will be 
made to the student, all expenses will be borne for the present 
by the Cosmopolitan. No conditions, except a pledge of a given 
number of hours of study. Work is to be formally begun in 

It proved an electrifying announcement. A month 
and a half after this statement — necessarily indefinite, 
the editor admitted, since plans had not yet been formu- 
lated — almost four thousand students had enrolled. In 
two weeks more, the number was almost six thousand; 
in another eight it had doubled. What was to be done 
with this vast horde of day-workers who desired to burn 
the midnight lamp! In the meantime had arisen other 
troubles beside that of feeding the multitude with limited 
loaves and fishes. President Andrews had just left 
Brown University on account of some differences of opin- 
ion between himself and the trustees, and Mr. Walker an- 
nounced that the magazine had secured him to direct the 
Cosmopolitan University with a Board of Advisors. 
But now President Andrews had been requested by the 
trustees to withdraw his resignation, and he in turn felt 
himself compelled to ask Mr. Walker to release him. 
The change completely disarranged all their plans for 
organisation, and others must be worked out as speedily 
as possible. Meanwhile the students kept on mounting^ 
prodigiously ; applications from all over the country swept 
toward Irvington-on-the-Hudson like a white tidal wave. 
The magazine had felt that the appropriation of one hun- 
dred and fifty thousand dollars which it was able to make, 
should be divided into annual instalments of thirty thou- 
sand each. They had regarded the sum as ample to sup- 
port the institution for five years. But the number of ap- 
plicants had made it entirely inadequate, and they were 
forced to ask that all students who were able to do so 
should pay a fee of five dollars per quarter. This did not 
daunt or even diminish the recruits, who cried aloud from 


every remote hamlet for a college education by corre- 
spondence. By May the ambitious band had become nine- 
teen thousand. Swamped, the magazine still floundered 
with the flood. Another thousand in August compelled 
the discarding of all former plans and the formation of 
new ones. But such emergencies had become normal by 
this time, and the magazine hoped that the experience of 
the first year — so unsatisfactory to their educational 
staff — would be of service in the second which it now 
undismayed began. At the end of that period, however, 
it threw up its hands. It would do what it could, but 
its means did not allow it to take care of the twentieth 
part of the applicants. The Government should establish 
a National Correspondence University, and it would pre- 
sent a bill to Congress to that effect. 

It had been a magnificent and generous undertaking. 
Of course, the usual number of sedate periodicals whose 
cooler projects allowed no opportunity for failure, and 
that large body of persons who cannot believe in the sin- 
cerity of a philanthropist until he has bankrupted himself, 
saw in it only ingenious advertising. Elderly people 
found it but another manifestation of the deplorable 
stridency of cheap literature — one could not imagine the 
Knickerbocker doing such a thing. It was all a part 
of this end of the century chaos which had hurtled ma- 
trons and letters into the market-place! Perhaps more 
than anything else, even more than the articles of ex- 
posure inaugurated by McClure's, the Cosmopolitan Uni- 
versity marked that the old ideal of a literary magazine 
was as dead as a dodo. It was an ideal derived from 
England and was embodied by the early Knickerbocker 
better than by any other successful American magazine 
not mainly of the review type, although possibly it might 
be found at its best in the short-lived Arctxirus. Polite 
comment on polite affairs. Moncure Conway summed 
it up once in the early eighties, " An English magazine 
is a circular letter addressed by a scholarly man to a few 
hundred friends." 


As this modest history of the magazines but aims to 
round off the century conveniently, it may not mention 
some of later birth. Nor may it follow the fortunes of 
Everybody's — born in 1899 under other auspices — ex- 
cept incidentally and as indicative of the new advertis- 
ing movement. Some account of this is found in Mr. 
John Adams Thayer's life-story, Astir. 

With a few notable exceptions editors do not make magazines 
financially successful. It is far more difficult to secure a capa- 
ble advertising manager, and he will demand and probably re- 
ceive twice the editor's salary. The business of my depart- 
ment, which had totalled a quarter of a million at my coming, 
had now a yearly volume of twice that amount. It was the 
hey-day of advertising. One day in the president's office I saw 
the architect's drawing of a massive stone edifice fourteen 
stories high, to be built for and devoted solely to the business 
of the Butterick Company. Facetiously the treasurer remafked, 
" Look at your new building ! " As treasurer, he knew that 
my department had made it possible. When we bought the 
magazine property, the price of the advertising was $150 a page 
— one dollar per page per thousand circulation being the recog- 
nised rate among general magazines, though an extra twenty or 
even fifty thousand is often given for good measure. With a 
showing of three hundred thousand now, we could ask $300 a 
page, as we had doubled our circulation in a year. We stood 
upon this healthy footing when Frenzied Finance began to 
increase our circulation to the merry tune of fifty thousand 
copies a month. 

To the innocent bystander, the adjective " healthy " 
may seem here to carry a peculiar implication. Does not 
health, he may query, increase as circulation increases? 
But the fact is, Everybody's was mortally threatened with 
a rush of blood to the stomach. The reader who resents 
his present serfdom to the advertiser will grimly appre- 
ciate the predicament. The magazine had fed itself up 
so, with its vital nourishment, that apoplexy threatened. 
(If that is a mixed figure, make the best of it!) The 
curious situation was startling in its modernity — to be 
dying of good health. But it was not absolutely novel 
for all that. Even before the old Scribner's had in- 
augurated the reign of the advertiser, the phenomenon 


had been forecast. It was as early as 1865 and the place 
was Chicago, which at that period scorned advertising, 
in the most elegant and approved literary fashion. There, 
Mr. Fleming tells us, the Little Corporal, a juvenile, had 
made an unexpected hit. It proved the first Chicago 
periodical to attract national attention and the first 
juvenile in the country to be read by children everywhere. 
Its circulation grew to be enormous (its twelve numbers 
cost one dollar — almost the first genuine instance of low 
prices), but it came a cropper with its advertising. The 
advertisers, who at that early date were nearly always con- 
fined to local firms, refused to allow the rate to be in- 
creased; an out-of-town circulation, however large, is of 
no benefit to us, they said. With a small circulation there 
had been a profit at this low rate, but after a certain point 
every additional copy was printed at a loss. It was this 
same condition which threatened Everybody's when Law- 
son jumped the circulation; and it was met by increasing 
the selling price until the advertising contracts should ex- 
pire and a higher rate could be arranged. The reader 
who resents the power of the advertiser will again grimly 
appreciate the symbolic nature of the solution. It is al- 
ways the Ultimate Consumer that pays, he may mutter 
wearily — as at present he picks his vexed way from gob- 
bet to gobbet of text through the welter of advertising 
matter ; and as, from page nineteen to page thirty-two to 
page forty-seven to page sixty-three the moving finger 
turns and, having read, turns on. 

" In less than a year," says Mr. Thayer, " we an- 
nounced on one occasion an edition of one million. The 
demand for back numbers was incessant ; and we printed 
a little pamphlet called The Chapters That Went Before. 
Mr. Lawson had worked a miracle in the circulation, and 
we beheld the wonderful vision of becoming a great maga- 
zine property without the long hard preparatory struggle 
of a Mitnsey or a McClnre. But so enormous an increase 
in copies without a corresponding increase in advertising 
rates meant ruin. We finally decided, contrary to cus- 


torn, to announce an immediate increase without notice to 
$400 a page, and later we established a $500 rate. Then 
we decided if we would meet the circulation we must raise 
the price to fifteen cents a copy. To raise the subscrip- 
tion price of a magazine is an important step, and when 
to make the change was the problem. The attorney for 
H. H. Rogers of Standard Oil fame suddenly wrote the 
American News Company, that if they distributed our 
magazines and put them on sale, he would begin an action 
at law. I saw this was the moment, and the free adver- 
tising given us by the Standard Oil was so immense that 
the edition though large was swept from the news-stands 
on the day of publication." 

Unique in every way was Mr. Lawson's series of 
articles. Twice blessed is he who, getting all, gives noth- 
ing. When Mr. Lawson finally made up his mind to at- 
tack the evils of high finance (much assisted to his deci- 
sion by the perseverance of the editor), he announced 
that it was his intention to do it for nothing and further- 
more to advertise his articles in the newspapers at his own 
expense. What magazine could help but admire so 
thorough and so canny a reformer, who felt his motive 
must be as far above suspicion as gay -bird Caesar thought 
his wife ought to be? He demanded only that Every- 
body's offer a prize of fifty thousand dollars for the best 
essay on Frenzied Finance at the end of its run; but, 
says Mr. Thayer naively, " we eventually persuaded him 
there were more effective ways of advertising." The 
end of the run found them normally issuing from five to 
six hundred thousand copies a month, and after it finished 
they retained the bulk of this circulation. 

** While our first cover was not particularly artistic, it 
was different from all other magazine covers and caused 
comment by reason of its sentiment and novelty — it 
represented two hearts cut in a birch tree. The cover 
designs cost us much effort but they assisted the impres- 
sion which promptly got abroad that Everybody's was 
different from the common run." Thus light-heartedly 


does Mr. Thayer mention the inception of the stupidest 
feature of the cheap magazine — the candy-box cover. 
It is a picture in Httle of the fate that awaits all display- 
advertising. Fired by the example of Everybody's all 
the cheap magazines hastened to be " different " and 
ended in all becoming just alike — their old distinctive 
cover forgotten and their trademark destroyed. In this 
mad work of self-obhteration the high-priced magazines 
followed — only Scrihner's being wise enough, in keep- 
ing her complexion through all changes of her adornment, 
to preserve her individuality. The cover-design Mr. 
Thayer refers to was attractive; and had they and the 
rest of the magazines contended themselves with the story- 
telling picture or one which had reference to some chief 
feature of the contents within, there would have been 
no objection — although not to be eternally confronted 
in the old magazines even with such covers is a welcome 
relief. The fancy cover had appeared timidly about 
1896. The Cosmopolitan sported one of the earliest, but 
the novelty was apparently regarded with disfavour and 
soon disappeared. McC lure's printed several of their 
Lincoln portraits during the run of the Lincoln articles, 
and also had printed portraits of several of their authors. 
This innovation was followed, conservatively, by symbolic 
female figures representing the months. Thus slowly 
the virus began until it had developed complete and rabid 
feminisation. In the meantime, within the covers of the 
cheap magazines a process of auto-intoxication was going 
on. The theatrical departments had become permanent 
fixtures, and the unending procession of actresses' por- 
traits had got well under way. Then arrived the lament- 
able hour when no home was thought complete without a 
Christie or a Gibson girl. And then the deluge! The 
chorus-isation of the cheap magazine was complete, and 
the day of the artist model had dawned. With no other 
variety than that afforded by seasonable costume, char- 
acterless as wax dummies in store-windows, telling no 
other story than their own insipid prettiness, they sim- 


perea incessantly and incongruously from the covers of 
magazines all sense and entertainment and serious en- 
deavour within. Even the railroad and news-stand 
trade, whose jaded eye this eternal exploitation of cherry 
cheeks and rosy lips is doubtless meant to ensnare, must 
have shortly familiarised itself with all possible combina- 
tions of the female features. Few things in the publish- 
ing world are more depressing than those books for the 
Christmas trade wherein favourite artists gather together 
their magazine covers for the year in one awful record of 
smirking fatuity. We shall look back upon this exhibi- 
tion of American taste with as much humiliation, diluted 
with humour, as upon our " lambrequin and drape " 
period. Here, if you please, is the magazine's one fin de 
Steele feature of the end of the century! 

For the rest, what a record is that which American 
magazine literature presents to the twentieth century! 
Magazines have now become so numerous as to defy any 
account of them beyond mere classified enumeration. 
To this stage of easy support has America advanced 
through a century of short-lived attempts. There are 
nearly two thousand titles of incomplete and unfinished 
magazines which perished of starvation — and the list 
itself is incomplete, for the names of many gallant young- 
sters have been lost forever. The splendid endeavour 
is as significant of our intellectual and social vitality as 
is the splendid achievement. How they have broadened 
and enriched American life! What incalculable contri- 
bution have they made to the growth of human sym- 
pathy and companionship ! Thanks to them, history will 
for the first time possess a complete record of human 
thought and activity. Thanks to them, men and women 
are enabled to live wiser and happier lives. 

Nor does this tell the entire story. " I desire to con- 
fess frankly,'* writes Mr. H. M. Alden of Harper's, " that 
in literature the book and not the magazine is the supreme 
thing; but the first encouragement of the greatest writers 
has come from the magazine ever since the time of Poe, 


and the magazine has been participant of such glory as 
literature has shown." That the magazine has a hundred 
times multiplied the audience of authors is apparent to 
everybody. Not so well understood is it that they have 
been of as great social as monetary value. They lifted 
the author to a recognised place in society which in spite 
of prominent exceptions he did not occupy in America 
until the day of their success. When I was young, wrote 
Edmund Clarence S.tedman, New York looked with dis- 
trust if not with contempt upon working writers. News- 
paper salaries were very low, and a man who got his 
living by writing was in the same class as a man who 
got his living by acting. He was almost forced into 
Bohemia. And speaking of the brilliant and erratic 
company at P faffs, he concludes: "If there had been 
a Century, a Cosmopolitan, and a score of other paying 
magazines, I suppose they would have been as conserva- 
tive as our modern authors and would have dined above 
stairs and not under the pavement." And, finally, one 
cannot reiterate too often the material debt of American 
literature to the magazine. The lives and letters of 
authors cry it in and between all the lines — but for the 
magazine very few could have lived to tell the tale. " It 
is only with the modern development of the newspaper 
and the magazine," says the House of Harper, " that 
authorship may be said to have become a lucrative pro- 
fession." We are apt to think of our literary hand-to- 
mouth period as long ago — so radical and immediate 
was the change wrought by the International Copyright 
Act. But that past is not so shadowy as shady. So 
late as 1881 the Century was saying, " Not many promi- 
nent American novels have of late years reached the 
reader in the first instance between book-covers." And 
if this might be said of novels, what of the rest of books? 
Before the Committee of Congress appointed to inquire 
whether any real need existed for the proposed copyright, 
Mr. Dana Estes said in 1886: "For two years past, 
though I belong to a publishing house (Estes and 


Lauriat) which emits nearly one million dollars' worth 
of books per year, I have absolutely refused to entertain 
the idea of publishing an American manuscript. It is 
impossible to make the books of most American authors 
pay unless they are first published and acquire recogni- 
tion through the columns of the magazines. Were it 
not for that one saving opportunity of the great American 
magazines, w^hich are now the leading ones of the world 
and have an international reputation and circulation, 
American authorship would be at a still lower ebb than 
at present." 


Alliance, 283 

America, 203 

American, i 

American Homes, 354 

American Mag. and Histori- 
cal Chronicle 319, 322 

American Mag. of Useful and 
Entertaining Knowledge, 
72, 187 

American Monthly, Boston, 
72-74, 138, 313 

American Monthly, New 
York, 48, 119, 123, 125, 329 

American Monthly, Phila., 65, 

American Moral and Senti- 
mental, 6 

American Museum, i, 21, 24, 
26, 133 

American Musical, 134 

American Review, 144-145 

American Review and Liter- 
ary Journal, 109 

Analytical Repository, 257 

Anglo-American, 71 

Arcturus, 127, 129, 141, 362 

Argosy, 203, 341 

Atheneum or Spirit of the 
English Magazines, 71 

Atlantic, 126, 127 

Atlantic, 46, 69, 71, 154-177, 
t86, 205, 206, 212, 219, 221, 
237, 240, 251, 274, 296, 300, 
310, 316-17, 323-24, 331, 
332, 333 


Ballou's Pictorial, 83 

Banished Briton and Nep- 
tunian, 71 

Baptist Missionary Messen- 
ger, 257 

Barnum's Illustrated News, 

Bibliotheque Portraitive, 63 

Boston, 4, 5 

Boston Quarterly, 264 

Broadway Journal, 96, 106, 
126, 145-147, 275 

Brother Jonathan, 136 

Brownson's Quarterly, 264 

Burton's Gentlemen's, 89-91, 

Cabinet, 42, 63 

Californian, 204 

Casket, 91 

Century, 71, 167, 171, 202, 216, 

217-18, 240, 242, 244, 251-2, 

287-311, 325, 335, 343, 344 
Chap Book, 178, 203, 356 
Chicago, 307 
Child of Pallas, 179 
Christian Advocate, 261, 266, 

278, 286 
Christian Disciple, 129, 263 
Christian Era, 261 
Christian Examiner, 129, 230, 

263, 264, 278 
Christian History, 256 




Christian Monitor, 257 
Christian Observer, 2.^7, 284, 

Christian Reflector, 261 
Christian Register, 261, 284 
Christian's, Scholar's and 

Farmer's, 8, 9 
Christian Science Monitor, 

Christian Union, 275-281, 282 
Churchman, 259, 286 
Churchman's, 257 
Club-Room, 64-65 
Collier's Weekly, 352 
Columbian, ia-15, 133 
Columbian Phenix, 60 
Commercial Review, 184 
Companion, 179 
Congregationalist, 261, 278, 

282, 286 
Corsair, 135, 136, 235 
Cosmopolitan, 340, 350, 354, 

358-62, 366 
Cosmopolitan, An Occasional, 

Critic, 114 

De Bow's Monthly, 185, 295 

Delineator, 305 

Democratic Review, 141, 142- 

43, 148, 150, 264 
Dial, 50-54, 80, 125, 154, 192, 

205, 263 
Dial, Chicago, 203 
Dollar Magazine, 93 
Dwight's Journal of Music, 80 

Emerald, 30, 42, 62 
Emerson's, 206, 214-15 
Evangelist, Hartford, 257 
Evangelist, 253, 273, 277, 286 
Everybody's, 3^53, 363-366 
Every Saturday, 165, 166, 169 

Examiner, Richmond, 138, 

Farmers' Weekly Museum 
and Lay Preachers' Gazette, 

Forum, 171 

Frank Leslie's Popular 
Monthly, 83 

Freeman, 146 

Galaxy, 167, 216, 223 

Garden City, 306 

Gem of the Prairie, 201, 306 

General or Historical Chron- 
icle, I, 15 

Genius of Liberty, 197 

Genius of the West, 198 

Gentlemen's, Burton's, 89-91, 

Gentleman and Lady's Town 
and County, 17, 18 

Gleason's, 83 

Godey's, 75, 92, 95, 97, 103- 
108, 145, 156, 197, 232, 244, 

Graham's, 91-103, 122, 141, 
148, 156, 221, 232-234, 241, 
244, 247, 314, 329, 330 


Halcyon Luminary, 131 

Harbinger, 80 '""-> 

Harper's, 71, 156, 162, 167, 

206, 209-211, 221, 232-255,1 

287, 289, 296, 299, 307, 308, 

310, 321, 354 y 

Harper's Bazar, 243, 249 

Harper's Weekly, 169, 170, 

209, 245, 249, 325 
Harper's Young People, 203 
Harvard, 205 



Hesperian, 199 

Hive, 178 

Home Journal, 136-138, 162 

Hours at Home, 218, 289 

Huntress, 181 

Illinois, 201 

Independent, 221, 267-27J 
281, 282, 284, 286, 296, 353 
Instructor, 5 

Journal of Philosophy and the 
Arts, 67 

Journal of Speculative Philos- 
ophy, 50 


Key 178 

Knickerbocker, 91, 96, iii, 
1 14-123, 129, 139, 140, 162, 
186, 189, 192, 240, 245, 322, 
351, 362 

Ladies, 75, 103 _ 

Ladies' Companion, 92, 94, 148 

Lady and Gentlemen's Pocket 
Magazine of Literary and 
Polite Amusement, 42 

Ladies' Home Journal, 169, 
344, 355 

Ladies'' Magazine and Reposi- 
tory of Entertaining Knowl- 
edge, 19-21 

Ladies' Repository and Gath- 
erings of the West, 197 

Lakeside Monthly, 202 

Lark, 356 

Ledger, Chicago, 203 

Ledger, New York, 83, 140, 
221, 243, 245, 303 

Lippincott's, 216, 296, 309 

Literary Cadet, 19s 

Literary and Philosophical 
Repertory, 55 

Literary and Theological Re- 
view, 129 

Literary Gazette, Cincinnati, 
196, 198 

Literary Gazette, New York, 

Literary Magazine and Am- 
erican Register, no 

Literary Review, 126 

Literary World, 128 

Littell's Living Age, 71, 209 

Little Corporal, 203, 364 

Lowell Offering, 81-82 


McClure's, 341, 343-354, 366 

Magazine of Ecclesiastical 
History, 257 

Magnolia or Southern Appa- 
lachian, 183 

Massachaisetts, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 21, 

Massachusetts Quarterly, 263 

Medley, 200 

Mercury, New York, 221 

Metropolitan, 179 

Mirror, Boston, 63 

Mirror, Cincinnati, 198-199, 

Mirror, New York, 74, 106, 

119, 131, 132, 136, 145, 189, 

Miscellany, Boston, 75-77 
Missionary Journal, South 

Carolina, 261 
Monthly, Boston, (ij 
Monthly, Philadelphia, 8, 23 
Monthly Anthology and Bos- 
ton Review, 28-32, ()2, 63, 

Monthly Chronicle, 75 
Monthly Magazine and Am- 

merican. Review, 109 



Monthly View, i. 
iMunsey's, 341-43 
Munsey's Weekly, 341 


Nation, 221-228, 271, 317-318 
National, Richmond, 134, 187, 

National Era, 78, 135, 193-195 
National Press, 136 
New American, 23 
New Englander, 53 
New England Galaxy and 

Masonic, 45 
New England, 2 
New England, 46-49, 69, 70, 

^ 79 

New England Quarterly, 61 

New Jersey Repository, 26 

New Western, 198 

New York, 24-25 

New York Monthly, 23 

New World, 91, 121, 136, 139, 

Nightingale, 3, 26 
Niles' Weekly Register, 180 
North American Review, 28- 
41, 62, 65, 67, 70, 71, 75, 78, 
81, 125, 164, 179, 183, 188, 
192, 222, 228-30, 263, 322, 

330, 331 
Nova Scotia, 26 

Observatory, 270 

Observer, Baltimore, 114, 

I 79-1 8 I 
Observer, 271 
Old and New, 263, 292 
Omnium Gatherum, 63 
Ordeal, 43-45 
Our Young Folks, 165, 169, 

Outlook, 263, 281, 286 

Panoplist, 257, 259 
Parlour, 198 
Pearl, 79, 314 
Pennsylvania, 9 
Peterson's, 94, 232 
Philadelphia Magazine and 

Review, 6 
Philistine, 114, 357 
Philanthropist, 193 
Pioneer, 77-78, 148, 155, 205, 

Pioneer, San Francisco, 204 
Polyanthos, 41-45 
Port-Folio, 86-89 
Princeton Review, 273 
Printers' Ink, 303 
Puritan, 270 
Putnam's, 156, 162, 186, 205, 

221, 228, 231, 240, 249, 291, 

3IS» 321 


Quarterly, Boston, 54, 142 
Quarterly, New York, 145 


Recorder and Telegraph, 260 

Red Book, 180 
Remembrancer, 260 
Review, New York, 129, 328 
Review and Athenaeum, 116, 

117, 126, 127 
Riverside, 292 
Round Table, 40, 214, 219, 221, 

224, 230, 271-72, 276, 278 
Royal American, 16, 32 
Royal Spiritual, 257 

Salmagundi, 89, 1 12-14 
Sargent's, 148 



Sartain's, 78, 147, 156, 221, 
232, 233 

Scribner's-Century. See Cen- 

Scribner's, 301, 309, 366* 

Simm's Southern and West- 
ern Monthly, 183 

Something, 63 

Southern, 295-96, 97 

Southern Christian Register, 

Southern Literary Messenger, 
145, 147, 148, 183, 186-190, 

Southern Quarterly Review, 
183, 185, 186 

Southern Review, 182, 183, 

Souvenir, 193 
Stylus, 189, 320 

Theological, 2^7 
Theological Magazine and Re- 
ligious Repository, 260 
Town, 114 
Town Topics, 181 

United States Literary G 
zette, 65-66, 70, 328 


United States, 10, 25 
United States Christian, 256 
United States Gazette, 95, 123, 

Visitor, 96 



Watchman, 261, 278 
Waverly, 305 
Weekly, Boston, (i2 
Weekly, New York, 221 
Weekly, Philadelphia, 10 
Weekly Museum, 22 
West American Monthly, ic 
Western Lady's Book, 196 
Western Messenger, 190-93 
Western Minerva, 198 
Western Monthly, 201 
Western Monthly Review, ic 
Western Review, 200 
Western Spy, 196 
Woman's Journal, 176, 243 
Worcester, 22 

Young Man's, 257 

Youth's Companion, 73, 20, 



Zion's Herald, 261, 266, 278 
Zion's Watchman, 266 




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